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President  Obama

12.7.11
- OBAMA TAKES GAY RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL


by: Memo Menos

President OBAMA, whilst doing his best impersonation of THEODORE ROOSEVELT yesterday in Kansas, had Secretary HILLARY CLINTON talking up gay rights in Geneva. Talk about having a handle on things. The economy continues to haunt the President, the Republican House still seeks to deny any quarter on measures to improve things, yet President OBAMA and his adminstration show once again they can chew gum, walk and talk, and run for re-election at the same time.

Secretary CLINTON, in an historic speech, outlined the US government's new, and first time foreign policy objectives to include GLBT rights around the world. It is a bold initiative, one that will be difficult to monitor and enforce, but it is an amazing efcfort from this administration, one that was met with nearly universal applause and standing ovations at the conclusion of the speech.

"The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws, and working with a range of partners to strengthen human rights protections for all. In Washington, we have created a task force at the State Department to support and coordinate this work. And in the coming months, we will provide every embassy with a toolkit to help improve their efforts. And we have created a program that offers emergency support to defenders of human rights for LGBT people.

This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of LGBT rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons, " Secretary CLINTON announced.

Senior State Department officials clarified the speech, and the sweeping new policy objectives for the press afterwards,
"... in the end of the speech, she talked about how opinions about human rights for LGBT people are still evolving, but how the truth isn’t evolving – the truth is immutable, and that we’ve seen time and time again before the way that opinions evolve in a way that they converge with truth and that that’s what she expects in this case. And I think the audience felt the spirit of respect and also the spirit of hopefulness that she brought to the speech."

Some 80 countries across the globe still treat homosexuality as a crime, with some like Uganda and even Saudia Arabia, punishing said crime by death. This new policy aims to begin the long and arduous process of educating, and retraining people, and cultures, that GLBT people have, and deserve basic human rights like the rest of the earth;s inhabitants. It is really quite remarkable!

Secreatary CLINTON had "a terrific amount of input" into this speech. It was "very much crafted in her vocie and with her guidance and her intentions in mind," State officlas informed.

"Now, we must go further and work here and in every region of the world to galvanize more support for the human rights of the LGBT community. To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay.

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.

And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people."

Secretary CLINTON spoke on Human Rights Day, which recognizes the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 by the UN General Assembly. That Declaration, make no mistake, is now applicable to gays and lesbians and transgenders worldwide.

Wow! Hurray for Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON, and bravo President OBAMA! Can you imagine what 4 more years might bring?

Secretary Clinton’s December 6 Human Rights Address:

In recognition of Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a human rights policy speech on Tuesday, December 6, hosted by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Secretary will speak at 6:00 pm local time/ 12:00 pm EST. The speech will be live-streamed and available for viewing at: http://conx.state.gov/digital-diplomacy/ and www.humanrights.gov. Follow the conversation on Twitter under the hashtag: #Dignity4All.

Human Rights Day recognizes the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Declaration outlines the inalienable rights of all people and has since served as the benchmark for the extension and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, which included members from Lebanon, USSR, China, France, Australia, Chile, Canada, and the United Kingdom. December 10, 2011 is the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration. For more about Human Rights Day and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, visit www.humanrights.gov.

 
Susan E RiceStatement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the President’s Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, December 6, 2011

Today, President Obama directed all agencies to protect and promote the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons abroad. At the United Nations, we have strongly supported efforts to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for the LGBT community, and the President’s action adds yet more force to our urgent fight.

Since taking office in 2009, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly within the UN system to advance the human rights of the world’s LGBT persons. Early on, we signed the UN General Assembly’s Statement on Sexual Orientation on Gender Identity. We joined the LGBT Core Groups in Geneva and New York. We won NGO consultative status for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. We championed the first UN resolution dedicated to advancing the basic and fundamental rights of LGBT persons. Last December, on Human Rights Day, we pledged to restore language including LGBT individuals in a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. Within two weeks, we did so.

There is far more work to do before our LGBT friends, neighbors, parents and children live in a world free of discrimination. Through steadfast defense of our universal values, persistent engagement with international partners, and the full force of U.S. efforts under the law, we will get there. I look forward to continuing our work and proudly carrying out the President’s directive.


 

Meanwhile, as if the administration isn't busy enough, members of OBAMA'S team met with onoe other than, LADY GAGA yesterday at the White House. The summit was to discuss plans on an anti-bullying campaign that would feature the GAGA. President OBAMA'S senior advisor, VALERIE JARRETT spoke of the pop icon after the meeting, "Lady GAGA has described this cause as a personal one-she has said that as a child, she was often picked on for being different. I am deeply moved by the way she has used her story, and her success, to inspire young people, and shine the spotlight on important issues."

This White House is getting busy. Okay!

 


11.8.11 - Secretary Clinton Names Ellen DeGeneres as Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness

12.7.11
- OBAMA TAKES GAY RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL


by: Memo Menos

 

President OBAMA, whilst doing his best impersonation of THEODORE ROOSEVELT yesterday in Kansas, had Secretary HILLARY CLINTON talking up gay rights in Geneva. Talk about having a handle on things. The economy continues to haunt the President, the Republican House still seeks to deny any quarter on measures to improve things, yet President OBAMA and his adminstration show once again they can chew gum, walk and talk, and run for re-election at the same time.

Secretary CLINTON, in an historic speech, outlined the US government's new, and first time foreign policy objectives to include GLBT rights around the world. It is a bold initiative, one that will be difficult to monitor and enforce, but it is an amazing efcfort from this administration, one that was met with nearly universal applause and standing ovations at the conclusion of the speech.

"The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws, and working with a range of partners to strengthen human rights protections for all. In Washington, we have created a task force at the State Department to support and coordinate this work. And in the coming months, we will provide every embassy with a toolkit to help improve their efforts. And we have created a program that offers emergency support to defenders of human rights for LGBT people.

This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of LGBT rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons, " Secretary CLINTON announced.

Senior State Department officials clarified the speech, and the sweeping new policy objectives for the press afterwards,
"... in the end of the speech, she talked about how opinions about human rights for LGBT people are still evolving, but how the truth isn’t evolving – the truth is immutable, and that we’ve seen time and time again before the way that opinions evolve in a way that they converge with truth and that that’s what she expects in this case. And I think the audience felt the spirit of respect and also the spirit of hopefulness that she brought to the speech."

Some 80 countries across the globe still treat homosexuality as a crime, with some like Uganda and even Saudia Arabia, punishing said crime by death. This new policy aims to begin the long and arduous process of educating, and retraining people, and cultures, that GLBT people have, and deserve basic human rights like the rest of the earth;s inhabitants. It is really quite remarkable!

Secreatary CLINTON had "a terrific amount of input" into this speech. It was "very much crafted in her vocie and with her guidance and her intentions in mind," State officlas informed.

"Now, we must go further and work here and in every region of the world to galvanize more support for the human rights of the LGBT community. To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay.

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.

And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people."

Secretary CLINTON spoke on Human Rights Day, which recognizes the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 by the UN General Assembly. That Declaration, make no mistake, is now applicable to gays and lesbians and transgenders worldwide.

Wow! Hurray for Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON, and bravo President OBAMA! Can you imagine what 4 more years might bring?


 


11.8.11 - Secretary Clinton Names Ellen DeGeneres as Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness

12.1.11
- PRESIDENT OBAMA AND ADMINISTRATION MARK WORLD AIDS DAY


by: Memo Menos

The President, and his staff, honored the million of people around the world effected by the AIDS epidemic with World Aids Day events today, including the hanging of a giant red ribbon at the White House, fluttering in the breeze between two big, decorated Christmas trees at the entrance to the building. President OBAMA marked the occasion with a speech at George Washington University, with satellite appearances by fromer Presidents GEORGE H. BUSH and WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, as well as the President of Tanzania, JAKAYA KIKWETE.

OBAMA reminded the audience, and the world, that the fight is not over, but "make no mistake, we will win this fight," in announcing $15 million in new funds for the RYAN WHITE program and $35 million for state AIDS drug assistance funds. He also noted it was his administration that ended the ban on people with HIV from entering the United States, which got thunderous applause.

The President's proclamation, as well as statement's from Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON, as well as Health and HUman Services Secretary KATHLENN SEBELIUS appear below:

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION:

On World AIDS Day, 30 years after the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported, we stand with the individuals and communities affected by HIV and recommit to progress toward an AIDS-free generation.
My Administration is taking action to turn the corner on the HIV/AIDS pandemic by investing in research that promises new and proven methods to prevent infection and better therapies for people living with HIV. In the past year, the National Institutes of Health has reported important progress. We now know that treatment of HIV not only improves clinical outcomes, but can also dramatically reduce the risk of transmission. Studies on the use of antiretroviral medications to prevent infection of HIV-negative individuals show promising results. And research is ongoing to devise new prevention methods that may one day offer innovative ways to prevent the spread of HIV, like microbicides that can curb the risk of infection in women. By pursuing the next breakthrough treatment in the fight against HIV, continuing research to develop a vaccine, and incorporating new scientific tools into our programs, we are taking important steps toward an AIDS-free generation.
To combat the HIV epidemic in the United States, we are implementing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy in our country's history, which calls for strong, coordinated policy initiatives, enhanced HIV/AIDS education, collaboration across the Federal Government, and robust engagement with individuals, communities, and businesses across America. As part of these efforts, we are embracing the best science available to prevent new HIV infections, and we are testing new approaches to integrating housing, prevention, care, and substance abuse and mental health services related to HIV/AIDS. We are implementing the Affordable Care Act, which mandates new consumer protections and new options for purchasing health insurance for all Americans by 2014, including those with HIV. We are also striving to secure employment opportunities for people living with HIV by working to end discrimination based on HIV status. To address the global HIV pandemic, we are working with nations around the world to advance comprehensive prevention efforts and provide lifesaving medicine to millions of people living with HIV. We are integrating cutting-edge science into the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that will do even more to prevent new HIV infections, including more effective drug regimens to prevent mother-to-child HIV
2
transmission and low-cost approaches like voluntary medical male circumcision. When combined with other proven approaches, such as condoms, HIV testing and counseling, and programs to support behavior change, these advances can dramatically reduce HIV incidence and save lives. As we move forward, we will maintain our commitment to rigorously measuring the impact of these approaches, revising them appropriately, and incorporating new ideas and technologies as they become available.
Recognizing that a coordinated strategy is essential to our success, we are partnering with a wide variety of stakeholders to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and treatment. Here at home, States, tribes, territories, and local governments are vital partners in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and we are joined by a host of public and private supporters and collaborators in PEPFAR. Partnerships with corporations, foundations, faith-based institutions, academic institutions, and other organizations are critically important to the fight against HIV, and we will work to strengthen these ties in the years ahead.
At this pivotal time in the worldwide response to HIV, the United States is preparing to welcome the global community to Washington, D.C., for the 19th International AIDS Conference in July 2012. We look forward to working with and learning from people living with HIV, clinicians, researchers, practitioners, and advocates from across the globe. On this World AIDS Day, let us reflect on the people we have lost and those we hold dear who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. And as we pay tribute to the past and current heroes in the struggle against this disease, let us recommit to bringing an end to this tragic pandemic and pursuing an AIDS-free generation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2011, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


BARACK OBAMA



STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

World AIDS Day 2011

Today we pay tribute to the millions of lives lost and families affected by HIV/AIDS. We also recognize the brave individuals living with HIV who carry the burden of this disease every day. It is in their honor that we remain steadfast in our pursuit of an AIDS-free generation.

President Obama’s announcement today of the goal to provide lifesaving antiretroviral treatment to 6 million people living with HIV worldwide represents a critical step towards this goal. Since AIDS was identified 30 years ago, we have made significant progress, saving and improving the lives of millions of people around the world. Remarkable scientific breakthroughs in preventing and managing this disease have given us the tools for even greater action. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative, we are working to translate these advances into lifesaving programs.

This vision of an AIDS-free generation can only be realized by working together. Partner governments, civil society, the private sector and multilateral organizations like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria must collaborate and share best practices. We must engage the world’s brightest scientists, advocates, and public health experts to find more effective ways to fight HIV. High-impact interventions like antiretroviral treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and voluntary medical male circumcision have the potential to move us toward the end of this epidemic.

We have come a long way in the fight against AIDS, but there is still a long road ahead to realize our ambitious goals. If we continue to work together and coordinate a global effort guided by science, we may one day live in a AIDS-free generation.

Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on World AIDS Day


This World AIDS Day is particularly poignant because this year we have marked the 30th anniversary of the first reports of AIDS. Today, as we remember those we have lost, we also celebrate the progress we have made and look expectantly to the future. Together, we are taking this year’s World AIDS Day theme, “Leading with Science, Uniting for Action,” encouraging HIV testing, and helping those living with HIV to get the life-saving care and treatment they need.
Reaching the goal of a world without HIV/AIDS will require us to take full advantage of recent scientific discoveries; implement policies that support HIV prevention, testing, and treatment efforts; and work together to meet the needs of those at risk for, and living with, HIV/AIDS. We are moving ahead quickly on the science. In the last year, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that people who were being treated for their HIV disease reduced the risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners by 96 percent. That finding offers great hope for our “treatment as prevention” efforts and for a future without HIV.
We are implementing policies to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to the care and treatment they need. HHS is committing an additional $35 million to support grants to states for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs and an additional $15 million to provide services and treatment to an increased number of patients at HIV medical clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new national campaign “Testing Makes Us Stronger” that will promote HIV testing among black gay and bisexual men, who are experiencing a sharp increase in rates of HIV infection. Testing is crucial to ending the epidemic because people who know their HIV status can take steps to protect themselves and their partners and live longer and healthier lives.
All these efforts build on a foundation laid by the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically expands access to coverage for people with HIV/AIDS. The law also bans the worst insurance abuses so that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with HIV and other conditions or cancel coverage when someone gets sick or makes an error on a form. Under the health care law, we’re also expanding Medicaid so that it will be available to many more Americans with HIV/AIDS, including single adults.
This World AIDS Day, we can be proud of what we have accomplished.
For more information on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, visit http://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/policies/national-hiv-aids-strategy/.
For more information on parts of the new health care law, visit www.healthcare.gov.

 

11.8.11 - Secretary Clinton Names Ellen DeGeneres as Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness

11.8.11
- Secretary Clinton Names Ellen DeGeneres as Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness


by: Memo Menos




During a major address on November 8, 2011 on HIV/AIDS at the National Institutes of Health, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that Ellen DeGeneres has been named as a Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness.

In this role, Ms. DeGeneres will use her celebrity platform to raise awareness about the global fight against AIDS. In a letter to Ms. DeGeneres, Secretary Clinton stated, “By lending us your energy, compassion, and star power to serve as our Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness, your words will encourage Americans in joining you to make their voices heard in our campaign to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The enormous platform of your television show and your social media channels will enable you to reach millions of people with the strong and hopeful message that we can win this fight.”

"I’m honored to have been chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness. The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart. And I’m happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up what “envoy” means," said talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), said “At this historic moment in our global fight against AIDS, we are thrilled that we have someone like Ellen DeGeneres on our team to raise awareness that we are on the path to beating this devastating disease. We at PEPFAR look forward to working with her to deliver a positive and hopeful message that we can work together to put an end to AIDS.”

Through “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Ms. DeGeneres reaches millions of people every day, including 8 million followers on Twitter and 5.8 million Facebook fans. On and off screen, the Emmy award-winning entertainer is involved in several humanitarian causes including anti-bullying; animal rescue and rehabilitation; and breast cancer awareness. Ellen has previously worked with the advocacy organization ONE to raise awareness about the fight against AIDS.


 


10.20.11 -
 PRESIDENT OBAMA MEDALS LESBIAN WHO FOUGHT FOR VISITATION

by: Memo Menos



President OBAMA today bestowed the highest civilian honor available to some very special citizens, one of whom is a lesbian who helped shape visitation and partner's rights with regard to same-sex couples and families.

"The 13 Americans that we honor today have all faced in their own ways the moment that Dr. King described -- that Good Samaritan moment when you see a neighbor in need and you have to ask yourself the question. They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made. They could have made excuses for doing nothing. Instead, they chose to help.

For many of them, a lifelong mission began with a small act of kindness. In 1987, a single mom and her child -- her children -- moved in across the street from Ida Martin. Ida saw their refrigerator was empty, except for a bottle of water, so she brought them groceries. And I guess once she got started, she couldn't stop. (Laughter.) So last year, the organization she founded answered nearly 22,000 requests for aid.

Then there’s Milly Bloomquist, from Penn Yan, New York. And for decades, she has personified the phrase, 'above and beyond.' At her 90th birthday party, one speaker said that Penn Yan has its own special system for handling emergencies. 'If you’re out of food, call Milly. If your heat has gone out, call Milly. If you can’t pay your electricity bill, call Milly. If you need a winter coat, call Milly.”

The right choice is rarely the easy one. And for some of those we honor here today, the choice to help was especially hard because it came in the wake of tragedy. Steve and Liz Alderman lost their son Peter on 9/11. Roger Kemp’s daughter, Ali, was murdered nearly a decade ago. Janice Langbehn was denied the right to visit her partner, Lisa, as she lay dying in the hospital.

As a father and husband, I can’t begin to imagine the grief that they must have felt in that moment -- their anger and their sense that the world was not fair. But they refused to let that anger define them. They each became, in Janice’s words, an 'accidental activist.' And thanks to their work, there are parents and partners who will never have to go through what they went through. "

The actions of Miss Langbehn were cited by President OBAMA when he announced his new policies with regard to same-sex couples in the federal health system, including visitation, notification of death, and other important rights and privileges.

"Janice Langbehn transformed her own profound loss into a resounding call for compassion and equality. When the woman she loved, Lisa Pond, suddenly suffered a brain aneurysm, Janice and her children were denied the right to stand beside her in her final moments. Determined to spare others from similar injustice, Janice spoke out and helped ensure that same-sex couples can support and comfort each other through some of life’s toughest trials. The United States honors Janice Langbehn for advancing America’s promise of equality for all."


 

Lily Tomlin, Bruce Vilanch, Kat Kramer
VIDEO


10.17.11 -
 BRUCE VILANCH, KAT KRAMER and LILY TOMLIN at the premiere of GARY TAKESIAN'S documentary "Teach Your Children Well.

by: Memo Menos


ZACHARY QUINTO, the new Spock in the latest reincarnation of the STAR TREK franchise, as well as the star of MARGIN CALL, a high-powered peek into the cause of the financial collapse of 2008, came out of the closet in a post on his blog Sunday. QUINTO, who posted an "It Get's Better" video in 2010, was moved to the action by the suicide of JAMEY RODEMEYER, a 14-year old New Yorker who was bullied for years about his sexuality. JAMEY, who took his life in September of this year, had also done an "It Gets Better" video.

ZACHARY QUINTOQUINTO posted these thoughts in response:

"when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself - i felt deeply troubled. but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life - i felt indescribable despair. i also made an it gets better video last year - in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time. but in light of jamey's death - it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it - is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country. gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying. parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance. we are witnessing an enormous shift of collective consciousness throughout the world. we are at the precipice of great transformation within our culture and government. i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society - and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action. jamey rodemeyer's life changed mine. and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner - i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me. now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world. that - i believe - is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other."

I think he is absolutely correct in his premise that we are in the process of a "great transformation."

Check out "Margin Call" where QUINTO's talents can be seen alongside an amazing cast, including Oscar winners KEVIN SPACEY, JEREMY IRONS, as well as PAUL BETTANY, AND DEMI MOORE.

Also on Sunday, REEL GAY TV covered the premiere of GARY TAKESIAN'S documentary "Teach Your Children Well" on the subject of teen bullying, with particular emphasis on kids with issues about their sexuality. The film was featured in a series hosted by KAT KRAMER called "Films That Change The World" at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood and was attended by narrator LILY TOMLIN, as well as JESSIE TYLER FERGUSON from ABC's "Modern Family", COCO PERU, BRUCE VILANCH and a slew of young actors all in support of the great cause.

FERGUSON revealed that he was bullied in high school to such an extent he had to switch schools. Of the "torture" JESSIE said, "High school is only for years long and fortunately there is an amazing life afterwards."

With the actions of President OBAMA in shedding light on this problem, and DAN SAVAGE who created the "It Get's Better" campaign, as well as the message in this film, and in ZACHARY QUINTO's brave revelation over the weekend, perhaps suicides like that of JAMEY RODEMEYER can be eliminated for good, AND GLBT youth can grow up to realize their amazing life "afterwards".

teach your children well
VIDEO


 



10.3.11 -
 OBAMA AND THE HRC

by: Memo Menos


President OBAMA spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Annual Dinner Saturday in Washington D. C. It was 14 years since the very first American president addressed the HRC, WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, and 2 years after OBAMA'S first appearance before the group. He had much progress to brag about. Since that night which followed a controversial letter from HRC to it's members cautioning them to give the OBAMA Administration until 2016 to accomplish the laundry list of rights for which gays and lesbians were fighting, President OBAMA has indeed been busy.

"I met with Judy Shepard. I promised her we would pass a hate crimes bill named for her son, Matthew. And with the help of my dear friend Ted Kennedy we got it done. Because it should never be dangerous you should never have to look over your shoulder to be gay in the United States of America. That’s why we got it done." Later that month, in October 2009 the hate crimes bill was signed into law.

"I met with Janice Langbehn, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying. And I told her that we were going to put a stop to this discrimination. And you know what? We got it done. I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid and that means just about every hospital has to treat gay partners just as they do straight partners. Because nobody should have to produce a legal contract to hold the hand of the person that they love. We got that done." In April of 2010, and continuing throughout the next few months President OBAMA issued a directive to Medicare and Medicaid to allow visitation rights to same sex couples, and to virtually equalize the medical services provided GLBT members, as any straight citizen of the United States that interfaces with those agencies.

"I said that we would lift that HIV travel ban- we got that done. We put in place the first comprehensive national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS." Indeed he did both.
"Many questioned whether we’d succeed in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress. We had to hold a coalition together. We had to keep up the pressure. We took some flak along the way. But with the help of HRC, we got it done. And “don’t ask, don’t tell” is history. And all over the world, there are men and women serving this country just as they always have -- with honor and courage and discipline and valor. We got it done. We got that done. All around the world, you’ve got gays and lesbians who are serving, and the only difference is now they can put up a family photo. No one has to live a lie to serve the country they love." The military offically ended this discriminatory policy this past September.

President OBAMA touted his efforts to combat bullying, noble ones to be sure. And his national HIV policy, with community outreach on treatment and prevention strategies. He derided the republicans for allowing an openly gay soldier to be booed at one of the debates last week, hitting all the right notes.

Then there was the issue on which President OBAMA admits his views are "evolving"-gay marriage. While campaigining for the office of president BARRACK OBAMA did not support same-sex marriage. As far as he would to say was that he supported civil unions and thought it was a matter best left to the states, a position that is clearly indefensible, particularly from someone who knows seperate is not equal. But while in office he has shown signs of warming to the idea.

"I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. There’s a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. But until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and it’s time for it to end once and for all. It should join 'don’t ask, don’t tell' in the history books. "

Does that sound like the evolutionary process is complete?

"So I’m going to need your help. I need your help to fight for equality, to pass a repeal of DOMA, to pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill so that being gay is never again a fireable offense in America. And I don’t have to tell you, there are those who don't want to just stand in our way but want to turn the clock back; who want to return to the days when gay people couldn’t serve their country openly; who reject the progress that we’ve made; who, as we speak, are looking to enshrine discrimination into state laws and constitutions -- efforts that we’ve got to work hard to oppose, because that’s not what America should be about."

I didn't hear the words "same-sex" marriage. He still can't bring himself to say them. So, not exactly, but we are getting there. In his opening remarks the President said:

"Every single American - gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender - every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition." It's hard to parse that in a way to allow for same-sex marriage to continue to be denied gays and lesbians, but hey, who knows?

He was not stating that as his own policy. In a very coy way he used those remarks to summarize the work of HRC President JOE SOLEGNESE. But evolution takes time. Note, he has accomplished an impressive list of achievements in 3 short, action-packed years. He saved the American automobile industry, got Bin-Laden, and still fought for us. One can only hope he gets to 2016.

Who couldn't love a president who opens his specch to gays and lesbians thusly:

"Thank you so much. It is great to be back. I see a lot of friends in the house. I appreciate the chance to join you tonight. I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga. She was wearing 16-inch heels. She was eight feet tall. It was a little intimidating.

Now, I don’t want to give a long speech. Cyndi Lauper is in the house. I can’t compete with that."

Godspeed Mr. President. Godspeed.


 


9.21.11 -
 At a news briefing at the Department of Defense, Admiral MIKE MULLEN made these comments:

by: Memo Menos


" A word or two on today's implementation of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." As you all know, I testified in early 2010 that it was time to end this law and this policy. I believed then, and I still believe, that it was first and foremost a matter of integrity; that it was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform. We are better than that. We should be better than that. And today, with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant joint force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values.
I am convinced we did the work necessary to prepare for this change, that we adequately trained and educated our people, and that we took into proper consideration all the regulatory and policy modifications that needed to be made.
I appreciate the secretary's confidence in me and his kind praise, but today is really about every man and woman who serves this country, and every man and woman in uniform, regardless of how they define themselves. And tomorrow, they'll all get up, they'll all go to work, and they will all be able to do that work honestly, and their fellow citizens will be safe from harm. And that's all that really matters."

 


9.21.11 -
  THE END OF DON'T ASK DON'T TELL

by: Memo Menos

President OBAMA issued remarks today on the official end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.

I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.

For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.

 



9.7.11 -
 OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PLUGGING AWAY

by: Memo Menos


President OBAMA, and his administration continue to fight for GLBT issues, despite the walls caving in all around him, with wars dragging on, the economy crumbling, and his approval ratings slipping.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance to support enforcement of rules that protect hospital patients’ right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, including a visitor who is a same-sex domestic partner. These rules, finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in November, apply to all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The guidance also supports enforcement of the right of patients to designate the person of their choice, including a same-sex partner, to make medical decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

"Couples take a vow to be with each other in sickness and in health and it is unacceptable that, in the past, some same-sex partners were denied the right to visit their loved ones in times of need," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We are releasing guidance for enforcing new rules that give all patients, including those with same-sex partners, the right to choose who can visit them in the hospital as well as enhancing existing guidance regarding the right to choose who will help make medical decisions on their behalf.”

In other news of interest to the LGBT community, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), another agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, today announced a $248,000 grant to the Fenway Institute to create a National Training and Technical Assistance Center to help community health centers improve the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations.

Just think what life could be like if we could get another 4 years out of this historic friend of the GLBT community, President BARRACK OABAMA.

 

 



9.2.11 -
 TALK TO THE WHITE HOUSE!
White House Announces We the People
New Online Engagement Feature Invites Public To Petition The White House
by: Memo Menos





Today, the White House announced We the People, a new online engagement feature. On this innovative WhiteHouse.gov platform, individuals will be able to create and sign petitions seeking action from the federal government on a range of issues. If a petition gathers enough signatures, White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

Visitors to WhiteHouse.gov can begin submitting petitions later this month. To sign up for an alert when it launches and preview the feature, visit http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/WeThePeople.

“When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens. That’s what the new We the People feature on WhiteHouse.gov is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them,” said President Obama.

To create and build support for a petition, WhiteHouse.gov visitors will simply need to create an account and gather signatures by reaching out to friends, family and coworkers. If a petition reaches a certain threshold – the initial level will be 5,000 signatures within 30 days – it will be sent to the appropriate policy makers throughout the Administration, reviewed, and an official response will be published to WhiteHouse.gov and emailed to all signers of the petition.

 

 



7.22.11 -
 DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL, NO MORE
by: Memo Menos

The President and the Defense Department announced today that the armed forces are now ready to fully implement the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The news was a surprise in that the Justice Department just this month filed legal briefs in opposition to a federal appellate court ruling ordering the government to cease enforcement of the policy.

In any event, after 60 days, on September 20, 2011 gays and lesbians will be allowed to serve in the military openly, without fear of discharge because of their sexual orientation. President OBAMA , as well as Defense Secretary LEON PANETTA and Admiral MIKE MULLEN all released statements today:

Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality. In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011.

As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal. As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war. I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition. Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans."



Adm. Mike Mullen's Statement on Certification of Readiness to Implement Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"I believe the U.S. armed forces are ready for the implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I conveyed that opinion yesterday to the President and to the secretary of defense, and today we certified this to Congress.
"My opinion is informed by close consultation with the service chiefs and the combatant commanders over the course of six months of thorough preparation and assessment, to include the training of a substantial majority of our troops.
"I am comfortable that we have used the findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group to mitigate areas of concern and that we have developed the policy and regulations necessary for implementation -- consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.
"Certification does not mark the end of our work. Ready though we are, we owe it to ourselves and to the nation we defend to continue to train the remainder of the joint force, to monitor our performance as we do so, and to adjust policy where and when needed.
"My confidence in our ability to accomplish this work rests primarily on the fact that our people are capable, well-led and thoroughly professional. I have never served with finer men and women. They will, I am certain, carry out repeal and continue to serve this country with the same high standards and dignity that have defined the U.S. military throughout our history."
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Secretary Panetta's Statement on Certification of Readiness to Implement Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"Last December, this department began a careful and methodical process to prepare for the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"Since then, the Repeal Implementation Team has worked to coordinate the necessary changes to policy and regulations, and to provide education and training to service members. This effort, led by Undersecretary of Defense Clifford R. Stanley, was designed to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the U.S. military to accommodate and implement this important and necessary change.
"Today, as a result of strong leadership and proactive education throughout the force, we can take the next step in this process. The President, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have certified that the implementation of repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the armed forces. This certification decision was carefully made after receiving input from the service chiefs, service secretaries and from all the combatant commanders, who stated their views that the force is prepared for this change.
"With this certification, and in accordance with the law, on Sept. 20, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will be repealed. We will have taken the time necessary to get this done right and to ensure that service members are properly trained for a change that I believe is essential to the effectiveness of our all-volunteer force.
"All men and women who serve this nation in uniform -- no matter their race, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation -- do so with great dignity, bravery, and dedication. As secretary of defense, I am committed to promoting an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant. They put their lives on the line for America, and that's what really matters. Thanks to the professionalism and leadership of the U.S. military, we are closer to achieving the goal that is at the foundation of America -- equality and dignity for all."
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

 

 



7.21.11 -
 AS THE DOMA (AND DADT) TURNS
by: Memo Menos

 

The OBAMA Administration continued its puzzling, but nonetheless historic push to advance the rights of gays and lesbiansto marry, with a little help from California Senator DIANE FEINSTEIN. On another front, the administration which supports the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", has filed briefs in opposition to a federal appeals court's ruling striking down the defense department policy. A 9th Circuit US Court of Appeal ordered OBAMA to immediately cease enforcing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", finding it unconstitutional. But Justice Department lawyers filed briefs in opposition of the order, citing the termination of the policy in advance of the Defense Department's scheduled implementation of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, would be harmful. The repeal of the policy by DOD is set for the end of the year.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday of this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the constitutionality of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Senator DIANE FEINSTEIN has introduced legislation that would repeal the law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. OBAMA's Justice Department has filed briefs, also in the 9th circuit, claiming the act is motivated by hostility towards gays and lesbians, and should be struck down as unconstitutional. President OBAMA announced this week his support for Senator FEINSTEIN's newly proposed legislation.

The really puzzling aspect of all this is that heretofor, OBAMA has opposed gay marriage, saying his feelings on the subject are evolving. A fallback position with some favor amongst less than enthusiastic liberals, including the president, is that the matter should be left for the states to decide. But, if it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the myriad of privileges that flow from a federal recognized marriage, then it cannot be left to the states to so discriminate. You can't have it both ways when it comes to the constitution. And, separate is clearly not equal!

So judgement day is coming, on a number of fronts. The constitutionality of same-sex marriage, and DOMA is before the Court of Appeals in a number of cases. A repeal of DOMA is now being considered in the Senate. New York will commence same-sex marriages this Sunday, with applicants being chosen by a lottery there are so many lined up.

All of this, with a presidential election fast approaching. Get the popcorn ready, this show is going to be good.


 


6.29.11 -
 PRESIDENT OBAMA HOSTS GLBT PRIDE IN WHITE HOUSE
by: Memo Menos

 

For the third year in a row, President OBAMA, in historic fashion, hosted GLBT community leaders and celebrities in observance of PRIDE MONTH. He noted, and recited the "astonishing changes" he has brought about for the GLBT community, but fell short of endorsing federal same-sex marriage. There was some hope that he would announce the full "evolution" of his views on the subject, in light of New York Governor MARIO CUOMO'S courageous accomplishment in getting same-sex marriage signed into law last week, but that moment will come sometime later down the road.

A few hundred people in the East Room enjoyed canapes, puff pastry, baby lamb chops, mini cupcakes and pastries, as bartenders scurried behind a bar serving guests with a jazz/R& B band offering entertainment.

The full text of the President's remarks follows:

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)

Nothing ruins a good party like a long speech from a politician. (Laughter.) So I'm going to make a short set of remarks here. I appreciate all of you being here. I have learned a lesson: Don't follow Potomac Fever -- (laughter) -- because they sounded pretty good.

We’ve got community leaders here. We've got grassroots organizers. We've got some incredible young people who are just doing great work all across the country -– folks who are standing up against discrimination, and for the rights of parents and children and partners and students --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And spouses.

THE PRESIDENT: -- and spouses. (Applause.) You’re fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit. (Applause.)

Now, I don’t have to tell the people in this room we've got a ways to go in the struggle, how many people are still denied their basic rights as Americans, who are still in particular circumstances treated as second-class citizens, or still fearful when they walk down the street or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality. So you all know that we've got more work to do.

But I think it's important for us to note the progress that's been made just in the last two and a half years. I just want everybody to think about this. (Applause.) It was here, in the East Room, at our first Pride reception, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a few months after I took office, that I made a pledge, I made a commitment. I said that I would never counsel patience; it wasn’t right for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for folks to tell African Americans to be patient in terms of their freedoms. I said it might take time to get everything we wanted done. But I also expected to be judged not by the promises I made, but the promises I kept.

Now, let's just think about it. I met with Judy Shepard. I promised her we'd pass an inclusive hate crimes law, named after her son, Matthew. And with the help of Ted Kennedy and others, we got it done and I signed the bill. (Applause.)

I met Janice Lang-ben, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying, and I told her we were going to put a stop to that discrimination. And I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid –- and that means just about every hospital in America -– has to treat gay partners just as they have to treat straight partners. Nobody in America should have to produce a legal contract. (Applause.)

I said we'd lift the HIV travel ban. We got that done. (Applause.) We put in place the first national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. (Applause.)

A lot of people said we weren’t going to be able to get "don't ask, don't tell" done, including a bunch of people in this room. (Laughter.) And I just met Sue Fulton, who was part of the first class of women at West Point, and is an outstanding advocate for gay service members. It took two years through Congress -– working with Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates and the Pentagon. We had to hold together a fragile coalition. We had to keep up the pressure. But the bottom line is we got it done. And in a matter of weeks, not months, I expect to certify the change in policy –- and we will end "don't ask, don't tell" once and for all. (Applause.)

I told you I was against the Defense -- so-called Defense of Marriage Act. I've long supported efforts to pass a repeal through Congress. And until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. The law is discriminatory. It violates the Constitution. It’s time for us to bring it to an end. (Applause.)

So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community. I have delivered on what I promised. Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done. There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me. (Laughter.) I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change. I understand that. I know I can count on you to let me know. (Laughter and applause.) This is not a shy group. (Laughter.)

But what I also know is that I will continue to fight alongside you. And I don’t just mean as an advocate. You are moms and dads who care about the schools that your children go to. You’re students who are trying to figure out how to pay for going to college. You’re folks who are looking for good jobs to pay the bills. You’re Americans who want this country to prosper. So those are your fights, too. And the fact is these are hard days for America. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to, not only on ending discrimination; we’ve got a lot of work to do to live up to the ideals on which we were founded, and to preserve the American Dream in our time -– for everybody, whether they're gay or straight or lesbian or transgender.

But the bottom line is, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because of the changes we’ve achieved just in these past two years. Think about it. It’s astonishing. Progress that just a few years ago people would have thought were impossible. And more than that, what gives me hope is the deeper shift that we’re seeing that’s a transformation not just in our laws but in the hearts and minds of people -- the progress led not by Washington but by ordinary citizens.

It’s propelled not by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard and mutual respect. It’s playing out in legislatures like New York. (Applause.) It’s playing out in courtrooms. It’s playing out in the ballot box, as people argue and debate over how to bring about the changes where we are creating a more perfect union. But it’s also happening around water coolers. It’s happening at Thanksgiving tables. It’s happening on Facebook and Twitter, and at PTA meetings and potluck dinners, and church halls and VFW Halls.

It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her partner. (Applause.) It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they say, well, yeah, we knew that –- (laughter) -- but, you know, you’re a good soldier. It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person out there know that they’re not alone. (Applause.) It happens when people look past their differences to understand our common humanity.

And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement. It is the story of America, and the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union.

I want thank you for your contribution to that story. I’m confident we’re going to keep on writing more chapters.

Thank you very much, everybody.

 


6.25.11 -
 THE MARRIAGE DANCE
by: Memo Menos


President OBAMA attended a $1,250-a-plate dinner, GALA WITH THE GAY COMMUNITY, in New York Thursday evening. A fitting occasion on a day New York was finally getting about to passing a gay marriage bill, which Governor CUOMO made a priority of his first term in office. In dramatic fashion, the bill was eventually passed late Friday night, with Governor CUOMO signing the bill into law just before midnight. New York becomes the 6th, and certainly the largest state to approve same-sex marriages, and the momentum continues to build.

The real question is, will President OBAMA, who admitted his views on gay marriage were "evolving", finally get behind a national law making same-sex marriage the "law of the land." At the event Thursday he couldn't bring himself to say the words "gay marriage" despite being heckled on the subject. And though he did reiterate his view that gay and lesbian couples be afforded the same rights as straights, he didn't seem eager to make any further stand to bring the issue to a national moment. He made it clear he still thinks it should be up to the states to decide, and he coyly referenced the "argument" going on in New York about the subject. But ti certainly would appear, President OBAMA believes in marriage rights for same-sex couples, just as long as it's not called marriage.

Surely he of all people knows that separate is not equal. So how long can he stick to this dance he keeps doing around the edge of reality. Because, let's be clear-with New York now allowing gays and lesbians to wed, this cat is now way out of the bag. It ain't going back in.

BARRACK OBAMA has been doing the gay marriage dance, dating back to 1996 when he was running for state senator in Illinois. In a questionnaire, that President OBAMA denies filling out himself, the following statement was offered on behalf of his candidacy, if not indeed from the candidate himself: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."

The New York Times recently outlined that candidate BARACK OBAMA whilst campaigning for president, discussed issues pertaining to gay marriage with traveling aide KEVIN THOMPSON, who was quoted in Sunday's paper saying, "To this day I don't think BARACK OBAMA has any issue with two people of the same gender getting married."

Indeed, while campaigning, OBAMA walked a fine line, saying clearly he thought same sex couples should be afforded the same rights as straight couples, but not quite embracing the gay marriage issue, leaving it "up to the states" to decide, which they have been doing, albeit at a snail's pace.

During his 2 plus years in office President OBAMA has taken steps which have brought him near the brink of this issue, hedging his bet all the while saying his feelings were "evolving", just as the national sentiment on the matter has undergone a transformation. Polls for the first time show a majority of Americans favor same sex marriage. So much has changed since the election in California where same-sex marriage rights were stripped of gays and lesbians by voters who passed Proposition 8.

The OBAMA administration should be lauded for all it has done to advance the causes of gay and lesbian civil rights. A hate crimes bill has finally been passed. Anti-discrimination policies with regard to gays, lesbians and transgenders was implemented on the federal level almost from the day OBAMA took office. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will soon be a thing of the past. And, institutionally, the administration is taking a stand against DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, by not enforcing the legislation in pending litigations. The ultimate evolution of this policy occurred recently in a California bankruptcy proceeding, where the federal judge could see no rational reason why DOMA should preclude a legally married gay couple from filing for bankruptcy as a couple.

The judge shredded DOMA, and 19 other federal judges signed on to the opinion. That's 20 of the 24 federal judges in this bankruptcy court who agreed DOMA was unconstitutional. Amazing.

So, with an election coming up, and the walls crumbling all around the conservative fortresses walling out the civil rights of gays and lesbians, will President OBAMA step up to the plate, do the right thing, show the full progress of his "evolution" and come out in support of same-sex marriage? The time sure seems right, plus, it is the right thing to do.

The White House has scheduled June 29th for a gay pride celebration. President OBAMA is hosting. My guess is, he steps to the podium, welcomes gay and lesbian community leaders to the East Room, acknowledges the 4 openly gay congressional representatives who will presumably be there, and finally, with some dramatic flare, announces that his evolution is complete, President OBAMA is in favor of same-sex marriage. Done.

Then, just in time for the 4th of July, the fireworks will fly. Rockets red glare, and about time! With liberty, and justice, for ALL.


 




6.20.11 -
  - Statement by the President on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Today, for the first time in history, the United Nations adopted a resolution dedicated to advancing the basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights -- and entitled to the same protections -- as all human beings. The United States stands proudly with those nations that are standing up to intolerance, discrimination, and homophobia. Advancing equality for LGBT persons should be the work of all peoples and all nations. LGBT persons are entitled to equal treatment, equal protection, and the dignity that comes with being full members of our diverse societies. As the United Nations begins to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons, the world becomes a safer, more respectful, and more humane place for all people.






6.17.11 -
  - President OBAMA and his very capable staff, Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON and UN Ambassador SUSAN Rights Council adopted for the first time, a resolution on the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered person. Secretary CLINTON and Ambassador RICE both released statements, which are contained below.





6.17.11 -
  - STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity


Today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love.

The United States worked with the main sponsor, South Africa, and a number of other countries from many regions of the world to help pass this resolution, including Brazil, Colombia, members of the European Union, and others. This resolution will commission the first ever UN report on the challenges that LGBT persons face around the globe and will open a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.

All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing. Today’s landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights wherever there is inequality and we will seek more commitments from countries to join this important resolution.




6.17.11 -
  - STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity


Today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love.

The United States worked with the main sponsor, South Africa, and a number of other countries from many regions of the world to help pass this resolution, including Brazil, Colombia, members of the European Union, and others. This resolution will commission the first ever UN report on the challenges that LGBT persons face around the globe and will open a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.

All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing. Today’s landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights wherever there is inequality and we will seek more commitments from countries to join this important resolution.





6.17.11 -
  - Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, June 17, 2011


I am pleased that the UN Human Rights Council today adopted the first-ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Today’s vote marks a victory for defenders of human rights. It sends a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end. It commissions the first-ever UN report to investigate the challenges that LGBT persons face. The United States took a leading role in the resolution’s adoption, and we pledge to continue to fight discrimination in any guise and embrace diversity in every form.

The United States joined the UN Human Rights Council in 2009 to change a flawed institution from within through direct and sustained engagement. Since then, we have worked in the Council to shine the spotlight on human rights abusers, promote tolerance for religious beliefs, and mobilize international action against hate. We will continue to stand firm on behalf of all who are at risk of violence or discrimination. And we will continue to work to ensure that rights that are universally held are universally protected.



Cynthia nixon


6.15.11 -
  - GAY ON THE MARCH


It is gay pride month and the world is getting the memo. New York is on the verge of finally passing a gay marriage law that Governor CUOMO will most certainly sign. After all, it is his proposal.

Yesterday 3 democrats and 1 republican who opposed the measure 2 years ago, announced their support, leaving the bill 1 vote shy of passage. It is evident the momentum on this issue is clearly trending for gays and lesbians, which is a real change, a sea change indeed.

The remarks of senator ROY J. McDONALD, who announced his switch, clearly reveal the pressure that is mounting on opponents to "do the right thing."

"I'm tired of Republican, Democrat politics; I'm tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue collar background, I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this."

Actress CYNTHIA NIXON was one of many supporters who were at the capitol pressuring representatives to get this measure passed.

Meanwhile, in California, developments yesterday were faster and more furious than a VIN DIESEL hot rod in a foreign city.

An appellate judge, US Federal District Chief Judge JAMES WARE ruled that Judge VAUGHN WALKER, who ruled against proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California, did not need to disclose the fact that he was gay and in a long term, same-sex relationship, prior to his ruling in that case. The ruling means WALKER'S ruling stands, and proposition 8 remains invalid. And, 19 of the other 23 federal judges agreed, signing onto the decision in an unprecedented and unexpected development.

The case continues to work its way through appeals, but so far, the ruling at the District Court level is still intact.

In another development, the US Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California, the nation's largest bankruptcy court, ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional, allowing a married couple the ability to continue with their joint bankruptcy filing, despite DOMA'S lack of recognition of gay marriages. The walls are clearly crumbling, but fast.

US Bankruptcy Judge THOMAS DONOVAN, in a 26-page opinion, put it clearly,

"In the court's final analysis, the government's only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land in regard to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in disregard of the personal status and living conditions of a significant segment of our pluralistic society. Such a law is not consistent with the evidence or the law...The Court has no doubt about its conclusion: the Debtors have made their case3 persuasively that DOMA deprives them of equal protection of the law to which they are entitled."

Judge DONOVAN also wrote, "Although individual members of Congress have every right to express their viewsand the views of their constituents with respect to their religious beliefs and principlesand their personal standards of who may marry whom, this court cannot conclude thatCongress is entitled to solemnize such views in the laws of this nation in disregard of the views, legal status and living arrangements of a significant segment of our citizenrythat includes the Debtors in this case. To do so violates the Debtors’ right to equalprotection of those laws embodied in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment."

Do you feel proud yet?

Not everyone is on the bandwagon, however. French lawmakers yesterday refused to pass a bill that would have made same-sex marriage legal in that allegedly liberal country. The French, who needs them.





6.13.11 -
  - TRACY MORGAN A HOMOPHOBE?


Comedian and actor TRACY MORGAN apologized to the gay community for a joke in a stand-up routine in Nashville last week. MORGAN, in an apparent attempt to be funny, joked in a falsetto voice, that he would "pull out a knife and stab his son if he were gay." Really TRACY, and that is funny how?

"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay and lesbian community for my choice of words at a recent stand-up act in Nashville. I'm not a hateful person and I don't condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context," a statement released by MORGAN explained.

Yah think, TRACY?

In reality, it wasn't his choice of words that was the problem. So, if he said he would shoot him with a machine gun, or disown him, or just hate him, that would be okay? Nice apology, but your sense of humor, and the pandering to the perceived sense of humor of those who live in the South, speaks volumes more truth than this convenient statement. Hell, I don't even think a majority of people in the South would find this sort of thing funny anymore.

I guess TRACY missed the whole bullying is so not cool thing.

In a statement released today TRACY said he feels anyone should be allowed to marry whomever they choose, and that he is ready to attend a gay marriage ceremony-again, completely missing the point. He indicated he would kill his own child if he were gay. Tolerating others who get married doesn't seem to address the fact that MORGAN is a homophobe, at least when it comes to his own household. That's like saying I don't mind if blacks go to school, as long as it's not my school. Or they can ride the bus, just not sit in my row. Not good enough MORGAN.

Try getting a publicist before issuing any more statements.




6.8.11 -
  - OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TAKES AIDS FIGHT TO UN

 

On this the 30th anniversary of the emergence of HIV/AIDS, the OBAMA administration has been lobbying the United Nations to re-energize in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Today the UN General Assembly held a high level meeting on the subject, releasing a new global action plan for the prevention of mother to child transmission.

Globally, the United States helped to transform the situation in 2003 by providing help and hope through PEPFAR, the largest international response to a single disease any country has ever undertaken. President Bush launched the effort with strong bipartisan support, and it is now the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative.

At the beginning of 2003 when PEPFAR was announced, fewer than 50,000 people had access to treatment in all of sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is remarkably different today. Through September 2010, PEPFAR supported treatment for over 3.2 million people, the vast majority of whom live in Africa. Globally, over 6 million people in low- and middle-income countries are now receiving treatment. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. also supports over 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children, giving them a chance at education, nutrition and a better life.

Perhaps most important of all, the global community has begun to see real progress on reducing new infections – the single most difficult challenge posed by HIV. The number of new infections each day globally has dropped from 16,000 in 2001 to 7,000 in 2009. During this era of heightened commitment, 33 nations, including 22 in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced declines in HIV incidence of 25 percent or more.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton remain unwavering in their longstanding commitment to fight global AIDS. During her trip to Africa later this week, Secretary Clinton will highlight the progress being made against HIV/AIDS.

President OBAMA today released this statement on the UN's actions:

As we mark the 30th year of our fight against HIV/AIDS, I join the United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in honoring the memory of all those we have lost to this disease and rededicating ourselves to the fight against this pandemic. Thanks to an aggressive global response, fewer people are being infected, a diagnosis is no longer a death sentence and more people with HIV/AIDS are living long, vibrant lives. But so long as tens of millions of people live with this devastating disease, and so long as nearly two million people die from AIDS-related diseases every year, we cannot and will not rest.


As the global leader in the fight against AIDS, the United States will continue to do our part. That’s why my Administration has increased funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to record levels, increased our support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and launched our Global Health Initiative to help countries build their capacity to deliver better health care, including for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS. And we will continue to invest in the pioneering research that holds the promise of new treatments and brings us closer to cures.

Still, it is not enough to simply do the same things the same way. This week’s meeting at the United Nations is an opportunity for all of us to do better. More governments need to contribute to this effort. More awareness is needed so that no one with HIV/AIDS is stigmatized or discriminated against. More coordination is needed so that the investments we’re making are preventing as many infections, delivering as many treatments and saving as many lives as possible. No nation can do this alone. Together, we can resolve to meet our shared responsibilities. Together, we can come closer to our vision of a world without HIV/AIDS.

Just another day, in an administration that really cares about GLBT, and human rights.






6.7.11 -
  - On 30th Year of HIV/AIDS, Obama Administration Recommits to Fighting Pandemic


Washington, D.C. – Thirty years ago this Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first reported on the condition that would eventually become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Over the past three decades, HIV has emerged as a potent global pandemic, and today more than 33 million people around the world are living with HIV and more than two million deaths from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) annually. Even today, more than 50,000 people in the United States are infected with HIV in the United States.
“We pause to mark the thirty years we have been fighting HIV/AIDS.” said President Barack Obama. “As we remember people in our own lives we have lost and stand by those living with HIV/AIDS, we must also rededicate ourselves to finally ending this pandemic – in this country and around the world.”
“This battle is not over,” said Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “As long as the AIDS virus threatens the health and lives of people here and around the globe, our work will continue to connect people to treatment, educate them about how to protect themselves, battle discrimination, and to keep the country focused on our collective fight against this pandemic.”
While America has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS in recent years, the Obama Administration has made it a priority to re-focus national attention on a domestic epidemic that is still in play. Building on a growing body of evidence and lessons learned, the Administration released last year and is now implementing a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy that provides a roadmap for reducing new infections, improving care and health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reducing the health disparities that have characterized this epidemic.
The President is also deeply committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care for more Americans and to supporting a robust research agenda to ensure that we make steady progress toward ending the pandemic. Under the President’s leadership, the Administration has increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention. On the global stage, the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative has built on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by expanding access to treatment, prevention and care for those in need around the world, and further enhanced our impact by providing increased support for maternal-child health and by supporting the efforts of governments and communities in the developing world to build their capacity to fight this epidemic and meet the other health challenges they face. The Administration will continue to use its leadership to call upon other countries to honor their commitments to defeat a pandemic that demands the attention of the entire world.
On the domestic front and international stage, the Administration continues to work closely with the American people who, on this day, should stand proud of what they have done, at home and abroad, to ignite our collective commitment to this worthy cause.
To view an interactive timeline of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and read more information, including upcoming events, please go to http://aids.gov/thirty-years-of-aids/





6.7.11 -
  - OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IN FULL PRIDE MODE


With all the other things swirling about the OBAMA administration, the economy, 2 wars, the looming debt ceiling battle, budget negotiations, implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and all the rest, it would be understandable for this president to let GLBT pride month slide under the radar. We've never let lack of support from the White House stop us from celebrating our pride in the month of June before.

But this President, and his entire administration continue to show nothing but aplomb at juggling crises, and managing to save attention for all the other matters that are critically important to various constituencies, particularly the GLBT nation. On May 31st President OBAMA signed a proclamation marking June as pride month. In it he spelled out the many accomplishments he and his administration have fought to achieve.

"Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all." (click here for a complete text of the proclamation.)

Last week the State Department issued a call to Russia to discontinue the arrest and abuse and other violence aimed at the gays and lesbians in Moscow trying to celebrate pride there.

Yesterday Health and Human Services Secretary KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, among other members of the administration held a conference call with the media on the 30 year anniversary of the emergence of HIV/AIDS as a major health crisis, highlighting efforts by the administration to continue to target the disease and provide new hope for treatment and an eventual cure for those afflicted.

Secretary SEBELIUS spoke today at the first ever Federal GLBT YOUTH SUMMIT, an event aimed at raising the hope and education of young people struggling with issues of sexuality by acquainting them with the policies and services offered by the federal government, as well as a slew of agencies, non-profit and others, all dedicated to improving the lives of GLBT youth. What an amazing thing!

She closed her remarks by saying, "I want to close by talking directly to the students and young adults here today. First, I want to thank you for making the extraordinary choice to become advocates and leaders at such a young age. I sincerely hope you continue on this path. A path that may take some of you back here to Washington. Every day that I go to work, I benefit from the talents of a remarkable group of leaders who are gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. I see the next crop of those leaders with us today.
I know that by working together we can create a safe and nurturing environment for LGBT youth. And we can build communities where every child – gay, lesbian bisexual, transgendered or straight, has the opportunity to succeed in any way they can imagine. That way, it truly can get better."

It already is, thanks to President OBAMA, and Secretary SEBELIUS, and the rest of a hard working, committed, caring administration, making history almost on a daily basis for the GLBT community.

 

 

Today, the Department of Education






6.6.11 -
  - Winning the Future for LGBT Americans

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia


As we kick off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the Office of Public Engagement has launched a new landing page, Winning the Future: President Obama and LGBT Americans. This webpage is designed to keep you updated on the President and his Administration steps have taken, and continue to take to benefit the LGBT community.
Also, on Tuesday, the President issued a proclamation for LGBT Pride month, available here.
Please take a look at our Winning the Future for LGBT Americans factsheet (pdf) and sign up for our e-mail updates that will keep you up to speed with what is going on in the Administration. We encourage you to spread the word about this site to your friends, families, and the communities you work with.
Brian Bond is the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement




5.18.11 -
  - STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia


In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.

Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.



3.23.11 -   - HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES CENTER STAGE
by: Memo Menos

 

We are embroiled in three wars, democratic revolution continues to boil in the Arab world, Japan continues to recover from a devastating earthquake and tsunami, and a nuclear catastrophe continues without resolution, yet President OBAMA, Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON and United Nations Ambassador SUSAN RICE have found time to continue to advance the cause of GLBT rights around the planet. Amazing!

The President during his trip to Brazil conferred with President Rousseff on promoting respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the establishment of a special rapporteur on LGBT issues at the Organization of American States. This special rapporteur will be the first of its kind in the international system.

Additionally, it was announced this morning at the United Nations that 85 countries have signed a commitment to end acts of violence and human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The President Secretary CLINTON and Ambassador RICE have worked diligently to build this historic coalition, amidst a full and demanding agenda at the world body.

"As I said last June, gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," Secretary CLINTON said. "We will continue to promote human rights around the world for all people who are marginalized and discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity. And we will not rest until every man, woman and child is able to live up to his or her potential free from persecution or discrimination of any kind."

The statement, executed in Geneva, included 20 countries that were not signatories to similar statements in 2006 or 2008. Furthermore, it garnered support from every region of the world, including 21 signatories from the Western Hemisphere, 43 from Europe, 5 from Africa, and 16 from the Asia/Pacific region. It was spearheaded by the United States, Columbia and Slovenia, with 30 co-sponsors.

Now, there will be those who say President OBAMA and his administration should have acted sooner, or should not have appeared on ESPN, or shouldn't have gone to "party" in Brazil as we launch a war on Libya, or should have done more sooner in Libya, or should do the same in Bahrain, or ad nauseum. Truth is, this guy can talk and chew gum, and he is doing a lot of both.






3.10.11 -
  - PRESIDENT & FIRST LADY ADDRESS BULLYING
by: Memo Menos

 

 

Today, the President and First Lady called for a united effort to address bullying at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. Approximately 150 students, parents, teachers, non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers came together to discuss how they can work together to make our schools and communities safe for all students.
“If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not,” said President Obama. “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it’s not something we have to accept. As parents and students; teachers and communities, we can take steps that will help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe.”

"As parents, this issue really hits home for us. It breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, on the playground, or even online," First Lady Michelle Obama said. "I hope that all of you – and everyone watching online – will walk away from this conference with new ideas and solutions that you can take back to your own schools and communities."

Every day, thousands of children, teens, and young adults around the country are bullied. Estimates are that nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year - upwards of 13 million students. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have health and mental health issues. If we fail to address bullying we put ourselves at a disadvantage for increasing academic achievement and making sure all of our students are college and career ready.

The conference encouraged schools, communities, and the private sector to join together to combat bullying. Today the White House also highlighted private, non-profit, and federal commitments to bullying prevention.
In a nod to the rapidly expanding technology we are experiencing, the entire conference was available live on the White House website.


Way to go prez, way to go.




3.3.11 -
  - THIS CHURCH IS NOT A HOME
by: Memo Menos

 

The Supreme Court took a stand this week for free speech, and in the process, validated one of the most hate-filled, despicable organizations imaginable. The Westboro Baptist Church out of Topeka, Kansas makes it their calling to show up at the funerals of American servicemen killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and picket them with hurt filled signs and anger infused chants warning the family members who are there to mourn the loss of a loved one and insure they get a dignified burial, that "god" is punishing them for America's tolerance of gays in the military.

They have devoted their time and energy to this unspeakable activity for years, long before the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." One can only imagine the level of fury in Westboro's dogma, now that the country, and the Defense Department begins to embrace the concept of equal rights for gays and lesbians. The vitriol must really be boiling inside that church, and the empty idiot who is fueling all this rage.

And now the Westboro Baptist Church has wings. The Supremes served them up a Red Bull and coke, and the Baptists are all Charlie Sheen crazy, no doubt. The decision wasn't even close, 8-1. And the real kicker for progressives, and anyone with a heart, is that the lone dissenting voice was uber-conservative SAMUEL ALITO. He's the only justice with any sense of reality on this issue? Really? Lord help us.

To be sure, the decision was the right one, legally, if not compassionately. Hate speech is protected speech. Free speech, and the constitutional policy which protects it, is a cornerstone of this country. Speech on the fringes of society is precisely what the constitution is there to protect. It is why the demonstrators in Wisconsin can hoist placards that depict Governor SCOTT WALKER as Hitler. It is the reason that ACT UP protesters could wave similar banners of President REAGAN in the '80's, when he refused to speak the word AIDS from the bully pulpit of the presidency. And it is evident in the loons who continue to claim our current president BARACK OBAMA is not a US citizen, or was raised by Mau Mau's and educated in madrasas. Our society does thrive on differing points of view, however twisted those views might be.

The Westboro Baptist Church is entitled to speak this way. They are entitled to inflict pain and spread fear through their tastless, mindless behavior.

What they are not entitled to do, is do it on the taxpayer's nickel, under the auspices of some kind of legitimacy.

The Westboro Baptist Church is a fringe group of lunatics. They are a cult, or a private club. They are borderline sociopaths. But they are not a church, and they do not preach the word of God. They should not be allowed to charade as an organization with that kind of stature.

President OBAMA and his administration should strip the church of its preferred tax status. If the followers of the bitter gay who runs this posse wish to dedicate their lives to fomenting hate and whipping up social conflict, they should have to do so on their own money, without the assistance of the rest of us. Tax them, and see how long they will last. Maybe they can get the KOCH brothers to fund this folly.

And perhaps they are entitled to other benefits under our tax laws; benefits enjoyed by the Klu Klix Klan, or the National Rifle Association or The Tobacco Growers Collective. There are plenty of fringe groups in this country. There are plenty of loons. Some of them get hours of media time to espouse their rants and raves. But CHARLIE SHEEN is not a church. The KKK doesn't get the aid of taxpayer assistance to preach white supremacy. Westboro Baptist church, isn't.

They could rename themselves The Westboro Baptist Faggot Funeral Service, or the Homosexual Holy Haters.

Let's just not kid ourselves that this sorry huddle of human waste is a church, or anything remotely close to one. Churches enjoy special status under the tax code because of the good they do for society. They are privileged because they promote love and harmony, and perform a social good. When they involve themselves in politics, like commenting on homosexuality, or the wars abroad, they do not necessarily get the benefits of a church.

If there is any justice, there is a God, and he will be the one with the signs and the hate speech, when it comes time for these charlatans to meet their maker.





2.25.11 -
  - White House Appoints Jeremy Bernard, Openly Gay Man, as Social Secretary
by: Memo Menos




The White House today announced Jeremy Bernard has been named Special Assistant to the President and Social Secretary. He joins the White House staff from the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where he serves as Senior Advisor to the Ambassador. Prior to this role, he worked as the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People's House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways. We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America's arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House," the President said.

"I am deeply humbled to join the White House staff as Social Secretary and support President Obama and the First Lady in this role," said Jeremy Bernard. "I have long admired the arts and education programs that have become hallmarks of the Obama White House and I am eager to continue these efforts in the years ahead."

"I look forward to working with Jeremy to continue the great work of the Social Office, from fun and educational student workshops to elegant State Dinners that welcome world leaders to the White House. Jeremy's creativity, perspective and skills will be a welcome addition to our East Wing team, as we showcase the White House and celebrating America's arts and culture," said Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.

The appointment caps a truly bold and adventurous week for President OBAMA, who amidst some deft handling of transformative events in the Middle East, blow-up budget woes, a labor union war in Wisconsin and beyond, managed to advance social policy in historic fashion, first concluding DOMA was unconstitutional as it was applied to gays and lesbians, and now this, appointing an openly gay man to serve as the Social Secretary for The White House.

And, the kicker, is seems, is that the right doesn't seem to have the stomach to make an issue out of it. MIKE HUCKABEE grumbled a bit, and MOINCA CROWLEY, a conservative blow hard on Fox News was a bit perturbed, but there just doesn't seem to be any edge to the once wedge issue of homosexuality.

The world is changing so fast. In so many ways change has already come. And President OBAMA has everything to do with it.






2.23.11 -
  - Application to Section 3 of DOMA
by: Memo Menos



In reviewing a legislative classification under heightened scrutiny, the government must establish that the classification is "substantially related to an important government objective." Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456, 461 (1988). Under heightened scrutiny, "a tenable justification must describe actual state purposes, not rationalizations for actions in fact differently grounded." United States v. Virginia , 518 U.S. 515, 535-36 (1996). "The justification must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation." Id. at 533.

In other words, under heightened scrutiny, the United States cannot defend Section 3 by advancing hypothetical rationales, independent of the legislative record, as it has done in circuits where precedent mandates application of rational basis review. Instead, the United States can defend Section 3 only by invoking Congress' actual justifications for the law.

Moreover, the legislative record underlying DOMA's passage contains discussion and debate that undermines any defense under heightened scrutiny. The record contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships - precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against. See Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 448 ("mere negative attitudes, or fear" are not permissible bases for discriminatory treatment); see also Romer, 517 U.S. at 635 (rejecting rationale that law was supported by "the liberties of landlords or employers who have personal or religious objections to homosexuality"); Palmore v. Sidotti, 466 U.S. 429, 433 (1984) ("Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect.").

Application to Second Circuit Cases

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in Windsor and Pedersen, now pending in the Southern District of New York and the District of Connecticut. I concur in this determination.

Notwithstanding this determination, the President has informed me that Section 3 will continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch. To that end, the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 of DOMA, consistent with the Executive's obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law's constitutionality. This course of action respects the actions of the prior Congress that enacted DOMA, and it recognizes the judiciary as the final arbiter of the constitutional claims raised.

As you know, the Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense, a practice that accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government. However, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because the Department does not consider every plausible argument to be a "reasonable" one. "[D]ifferent cases can raise very different issues with respect to statutes of doubtful constitutional validity," and thus there are "a variety of factors that bear on whether the Department will defend the constitutionality of a statute." Letter to Hon. Orrin G. Hatch from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois at 7 (Mar. 22, 1996). This is the rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute. Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute "in cases in which it is manifest that the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional," as is the case here. Seth P. Waxman, Defending Congress, 79 N.C. L.Rev. 1073, 1083 (2001).

In light of the foregoing, I will instruct the Department's lawyers to immediately inform the district courts in Windsor and Pedersen of the Executive Branch's view that heightened scrutiny is the appropriate standard of review and that, consistent with that standard, Section 3 of DOMA may not be constitutionally applied to same-sex couples whose marriages are legally recognized under state law. If asked by the district courts in the Second Circuit for the position of the United States in the event those courts determine that the applicable standard is rational basis, the Department will state that, consistent with the position it has taken in prior cases, a reasonable argument for Section 3's constitutionality may be proffered under that permissive standard. Our attorneys will also notify the courts of our interest in providing Congress a full and fair opportunity to participate in the litigation in those cases. We will remain parties to the case and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.

Furthermore, pursuant to the President's instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President's and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.

A motion to dismiss in the Windsor and Pedersen cases would be due on March 11, 2011. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely yours,


Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General

Speaker BOEHNER could elect to hire counsel and pursue litigation of the matter on behalf of the House of Representatives. Now that would be interesting, wouldn't it?




2.17.11 -
  - MAHALO HAWAII
by: Memo Menos

The Hawaii Legislature yesterday passed a civil unions bill that grants same-sex partners essentially the same benefits as married couples. Hawaii's Governor NEIL ABERCROMBIE has vowed he will sign it, unlike his predecessor, LINDA LINGLE, who vetoed a similar bill last year. She was termed out of office, paving the way for the Rainbow state to start welcoming gay wedding parties.

And with a governor by the name of Abercrombie, was there ever any doubt?

The passage marks a long and winding adventure for the state of Hawaii, and same-sex partners. It was Hawaii's Supreme Court, back in 1993 that first opened the door to gay marriage, citing that the state could show no "compelling interest" in denying same-sex couples to marry. The director of the National Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the ACLU called the case "the first time a court(in the US) took a gay marriage case seriously.

At the time President CLINTON came roaring out of the starting gates of his presidency looking to advance civil rights for gays and lesbians. But he ran into a wall with the gays in the military issue, eventually compromising with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and we know how that turned out. It was 17 years before that fiasco was finalyy rectified.

After the Hawaii Supreme Court decision, 69% of the voters in Hawaii amended the constitution of the state to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and that was the beginning of the end for gay marriage. Since then, 29 other states passed similar bans on same-sex marriage, and it was President CLINTON who near the end of his 8-year term, signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still in effect as the roadblock to gay marriage. That wall may too come tumbling down soon.

In the meantime, Hawaii has come full circle, joining California, New York, Rhode Island, Iowa, New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington which allow some form of civil unions or domestic partnerships. It is progress, but in reality, it is separate but equal, and that can't stand. Five states, and the District of Columbia have seen the light, and allow gay marriage.

Maryland may be the next state to join the ranks of the enlightened. A committee yesterday passed a bill which would legalize same-sex marriage. It now goes to the full legislature, where pundits say it has a good chance of passing.

A side note-yesterday's vote in Hawaii was preceded by the first ever confirmation in that state of an openly gay Supreme Court Justice, SABRINA McKENNA. Change is coming, even to the islands, man.

 





1.27.11 -
  - DAVID KATO MURDERED

by: Memo Menos


Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON joined the president in condemning the killings:


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release January 27, 2011
2011/116

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

Murder of Ugandan LGBT Activist David Kato

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.

David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda's LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission's October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda's draft "anti-homosexuality bill" and the Ugandan High Court's January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans' right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda's LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.

Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists -- people like David -- who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensible to achieving the progress we all seek.

This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us -- and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.

Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.








1.27.11 -
  - DAVID KATO MURDERED

by: Memo Menos



Ugandan gay rights activist DAVID KATO was murdered with a hammer at his home in Kampala yesterday. It was just January 3rd of this year that he won a court decision winning an injunction against a local publication calling for his hanging because of his sexual orientation. KATO reported that since the decision, he was being harrassed with greater fury.

President BARACK OBAMA issued this statement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release January 27, 2011


Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.





P Barack Obama

1.20.11 -
  -HUD PROPOSES NEW RULE TO ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS TO HOUSING
REGARDLESS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY

by: Memo Menos



WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today proposed new regulations intended to ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. View the proposed rule announced today.

“This is a fundamental issue of fairness,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

To view a complete analysis of this comprehensive change, go to: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=LGBTPR.PDF

HUD is also conducting the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Every ten years, HUD does a study of the impact of housing discrimination on the basis of race and color. HUD undertook this important research in 1977, 1989 and 2000 and is currently undertaking this study again. It is believed that LGBT individuals and families may remain silent because in many local jurisdictions, they may have little or no legal recourse. While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown evidence of this sort of bias. For example, a 2007 report by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.

HUD currently requires its recipients of discretionary funds to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity. In July, the Department issued new guidance that treats discrimination based on gender nonconformity or sex stereotyping as sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs HUD staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status. Approximately 20 states, and the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation have additional protections that specifically prohibit such discrimination against LGBT individuals. Under guidance announced last year, HUD will, as appropriate, retain its jurisdiction over complaints filed by LGBT individuals or families but also jointly investigate or refer matters to those state, district and local governments with other legal protections.

All this, and a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." If OBAMA keeps this up we'll be on par with Mexico and Canada. Holland can't be too far away...





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