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04/19/2007


Obama Neglects LGBT Issues In Chat with Pope Francis

Obama and Pope Francis

The Washington Blade is reporting that President Obama failed to raise LGBT-specific issues with Pope Francis during their meeting in the Vatican last Thursday. 

“I would say that the largest bulk of the time was discussing two central concerns of his,” Obama told reporters after the meeting. “One is the issues of the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity and growing inequality.”

Obama said he and the pontiff discussed immigration reform and the possibility of a papal trip to the U.S. The president stressed there was also “some specific focus” during their 50 minute meeting on the Middle East – and specifically Syria, Lebanon and the fledgling peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“The theme that stitched our conversation together was a belief that in politics and in life the quality of empathy, the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes and to care for someone even if they don’t look like you or talk like you or share your philosophy – that that’s critical,” said Obama. “It’s the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into wars.”

Obama said he did not discuss any specific religious exemptions relating to the Affordable Care Act, although the Vatican noted that the two discussed “questions of particular relevance for the church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection…”

Esteban Paulón, LGBT Federation of Argentina President, expressed disappointment that Obama failed to address global concerns about global LGBT inequality with Pope Francis. Before becoming the pope, Francis served as archbishop of Buenos Aires (where his record on gay rights was decidedly mixed)

“Even though we did not have high expectations, we believed that within the context of the meeting President Obama would have brought to the table his administration’s concern that it has expressed, and that we have shared, about the climate of hostilities towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in many parts of the world,” Paulón told the Blade on Friday. “In many of those countries this persecution happens with the support, or at the very least with the complicity and silence, of the Catholic hierarchy.”


Obama Kisses Justin Bieber In SNL Sketch Ahead of Final Day Of Obamacare Signup: VIDEO

Obama_beiber

This weekend, Saturday Night Live performed a skit of President Barack Obama doing increasingly ridiculous things to help remind people that today is the last day of open enrollment for Obamacare.

To help the news go viral, Obama dances with the Pope, poses for a selfie with Batkid and Kim Kardashian and then kisses Justin Bieber (hilariously played by Kate McKinnon).

Watch the sketch, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "Obama Kisses Justin Bieber In SNL Sketch Ahead of Final Day Of Obamacare Signup: VIDEO" »


DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias Expresses Frustration About Lack of 'ENDA' Executive Order

Add Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias to the growing list of individuals expressing concern over why President Obama has yet to issue an executive order barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors, calling its absence “frustrating and perplexing.”

The Washington Blade reports that Tobias made the comments in an off-the-record listserv for LGBT donors:

Andrew tobias“I agree 100% with those who say it should be signed, 100% with those who believe we should keep pressing, and 100% with those who say it’s frustrating and perplexing,” Tobias wrote. “But I think we would be crazy to let it diminish our efforts to hold the Senate, get Nancy her gavel back, and lay the groundwork for a huge LGBT supporter to win the White House in 2016. (All our plausible 2016 nominees are huge LGBT supporters.)”

Tobias, who’s gay, confirmed to the Washington Blade the email indeed came from him as did other individuals on the listserv, who said the message came from his email account on Wednesday. Notably, these individuals said Tobias told LGBT donors in his email that listserv members should feel free to quote him as expressing those views. Tobias also told the Blade to quote him as such.

The paper notes that the remarks are striking for Tobias, who has a reputation for tamping down criticism and concern over the Obama administration and the DNC for not doing enough on LGBT rights.

Earlier this month, a prominent gay activist accused DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) of discouraging Democratic lawmakers from signing a letter asking President Obama to issue the executive order.


Obama Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican: VIDEO

Pope_obama

President Obama and Pope Francis met for the first time today at the Vatican, in a meeting that lasted 52 minutes. The NYT reports:

In a three-paragraph communiqué released on Thursday afternoon, the Vatican described as “cordial” the meetings between Mr. Obama and Francis, as well as a later meeting among the president, his aides and other top Vatican officials. The discussions touched on “current international themes,” according to the statement, as the Vatican also expressed hope for respect for humanitarian and international law in “areas of conflict.” Immigration reform was discussed, while both sides shared a “common commitment” to fighting human trafficking.

As expected, the Vatican communiqué also alluded to the ongoing dispute between American bishops and the Obama administration over provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the mandate that for-profit corporations must provide contraception coverage in health care plans. American bishops argue that the mandate is a violation of religious freedom. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the mandate.

In the communiqué, the Vatican noted that discussions were held on questions of particular relevance for the Church, including “the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection.”

Watch scenes from their meeting, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican: VIDEO" »


Obama Denounces Russia for 'Targeting' Gays in Speech to EU: VIDEO

Brussels_obama

In a speech on Wednesday at the Palais Des Beaux-Arts in Brussels after talks with EU and NATO leaders on Russia's military backed annexation of Crimea, President Obama gave a speech about taking a stand against Russia, part of which mentioned Russia's attitude toward gay rights, CNN reports:

In making the case for a united stand against what he characterized as Russian aggression, Obama borrowed from the language that helped win him the White House for a second term.

"We believe in human dignity - that every person is created equal, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or where you come from," he said.

Later, Obama reiterated criticism of Russian intolerance spawned by a law passed before the Sochi Olympics that outlawed promoting gay rights to children.

Western ideals and values of openness and tolerance would endure long past repression, he argued.

"Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights," he said. "Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That's what will make America strong. That's what will make Europe strong. That's what makes us who we are."

Watch the full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama Denounces Russia for 'Targeting' Gays in Speech to EU: VIDEO" »


Rand Paul: Obama Should Explain to the Pope Why He's Attacking Religious Freedom - VIDEO

Paul

Referring to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) lectured Obama on what he should explain to Pope Francis in a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“He ought to explain to the pope why he is telling businesses in America they can’t remain true to their faith and stay in business." He should also “tell the pope he’s not going to spy on him anymore.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Crooks and Liars notes:

...if it were Rand Paul visiting with the Pope, I'd tell him he should be ready to explain why it is that he opposes extending unemployment insurance while taking food out of the mouths of hungry children.

I think Rand Paul has more to explain than President Obama does.

Continue reading "Rand Paul: Obama Should Explain to the Pope Why He's Attacking Religious Freedom - VIDEO" »


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