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Openly Gay Google Exec Megan Smith Named U.S. Chief Technology Officer: VIDEO

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Megan Smith, a Google executive and former CEO of the online LGBT community site PlanetOut, has been selected by President Obama as the new Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. 

As CTO, Smith will "lead Administration-wide efforts to unleash the power of technology, data, and innovation to help meet our nation’s goals and the needs of our citizens."

Said Obama of Smith's selection:

Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment. I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.

The Washington Post adds:

Smith, the new U.S. CTO, is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer and entrepreneur with deep roots in the California tech world. She currently serves as a vice president at Google[x], the company's lab for ambitious next-generation projects, like its delivery-by-drone Project Wing and its balloon-borne Internet connectivity program Project Loon. For nine years, Smith led Google's team responsible for developing new business, where she led the acquisitions that would become Google Earth and Google Maps. And she's familiar to Washington's burgeoning "civic tech" community through her work with the Google Crisis Response project.

Check out a Bloomberg report on how Smith might shape the tech policy landscape in her new position, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Obamacare Expanding Healthcare Access For Trans People

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A growing number of low-income people who identify as transgender are finding that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is making it easier for them to transition. One of Obamacare’s key components is the requirement that health care providers provide coverage for all people interested in purchasing policies, regardless of whether or not they have pre-existing conditions.

Previously gender identity disorder, the psychological description of a dysphoria associated with one’s birth sex and assigned gender, was frequently used both to disqualify people from purchasing health plans and as a justification for denying certain forms of coverage. By making health care generally more affordable and divorcing coverage from employers, Obamacare is removing many of the barriers that trans-identified people have traditionally had to deal with

“The system isn’t perfect — low-income people buying insurance through a state exchange will still have to pay monthly fees — but it’s an improvement over the current setup,” Transgender Law Center Project Health program manager Anand Kalra explained to the Advocate:

“[A]ll plans sold through state exchanges have to provide coverage for 10 ‘Essential Health Benefits,’ which include, among others, preventative care, reproductive health, prescription drugs, mental health care, and treatment for substance abuse.”

Increased access to a broader network of healthcare practitioners is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t address all of the infrastructural healthcare difficulties faced by the the trans-community. There are far fewer general practitioners that specialize in trans-health issues. Moreover, while insurance companies can no longer out and out deny trans-identified people coverage simply for being trans, the approval process for many  medical procedures commonly associated with trans-people can be arduous.

"It is not a simple, easy, magical surgery," Devin Payn recounted to Kaiser Health News. "Trying to do this without insurance is a big risk. Things can go wrong ... not having the money to pay for it would be awful."


Department Of Labor Announces Protections For Transgender Employees Of Federal Contractors - VIDEO

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The Department of Labor has finally issued guidance to protect transgender employees of federal contractors from discrimination, reports Buzzfeed.

The move comes after an April 2012 decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) supporting a claim for discrimination against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed by transgender woman Mia Macy.

The EEOC ruled in favor of Macy’s claim under the sex discrimination ban in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because anti-transgender discrimination is a type of sex discrimination.

When Labor Secretary Tom Perez addressed the issue in February, he said that the issue was under review. However, it wasn’t until President Obama announced in June that he would be signing an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT employees of federally-funded organizations that Perez announced the Labor Department would be applying the Macy decision to the existing executive order.

The guidance was issued yesterday “[t]o clarify that existing agency guidance on discrimination on the basis of sex under Executive Order 11246, as amended, includes discrimination on the bases of gender identity and transgender status.”

Welcoming the decision, Sarah Warbelow, The Human Rights Campaign’s legal director, said:

“The Labor Department guidance issued today is a giant step toward ensuring American workers are judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are — like their gender identity.”

Watch a Center for American Progress profile of Mia Macy, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Christian Blogger: LGBT People And Barack Obama Are Responsible For Terrorism

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Writing on Christian Post last week, Michael Bresciani launched a sustained attack on President Barack Obama's pro-LGBT policies and suggested that gay people are responsible for terrorism.

Bresciani is the publisher of AmericanProphet.org

In a blog post titled The Perversion and Terrorism Connection - Modern Man’s Ball and Chain, Bresciani wrote that "homosexuals see injustice on every level of society because they are not fully accepted and their normal is seen by most as damaging perversity. They don’t realize that the more their plight becomes accepted as the norm, the closer the rest of the world is in danger of judgment."

Making the link between gay people and terrorism, he argued that "the days of warning about judgments due to perversion are over, these judgments have already begun and terrorism is part of it."

Bresciani continued that Barack Obama's liberal interpretation of the bible is "a satanically inspired lie" which "has already cost close to sixty million bodies lost to abortion, untold numbers of good minds have been lost to godless academia’s hidden agenda. Character and what remains of the human heart have been hijacked by the morally repulsive trends of the pop-culture generations top voices and all that remains to be stolen and usurped is our very eternal destinies."

Arguing that St. Paul would disagree with Obama, he says that the President "is a pompous politician and former community organizer who prior to his run for president accomplished virtually nothing of any notable significance" who dismisses "the words of [St. Paul] as obscure and not worth taking seriously."

 


Obama Makes Surprise Video Appearance at Gay Games Opening Ceremony: WATCH

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The Gay Games 9 kicked off in Cleveland last night with thousands of people from all over the country and world gathering to take part in the LGBT-inclusive sporting event. 

The opening ceremony featured appearances by former Olympian Greg Louganis and singer Lance Bass - as well as a surprise message from President Obama via video.

Said Obama, in part:

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 7.19.39 AM"Even since 2006, when the Games were last held in the United States, in my hometown of Chicago, we've come a long way in our commitment to the equal rights of LGBT people here and around the world...I know some of you have come from places where it requires courage, even defiance, to come out - sometimes at great personal risk. You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you in these Games."  

Check out Obama's full speech and video footage of the opening ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Gay Games will run until August 16. 

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Obama Welcomes Ugandan President to the White House

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President Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to the White House on Tuesday as part of the U.S.-Africa leaders summit this week.

Despite announcements in June from the State Department that it would "take measures to prevent entry into the United States by certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals" the man responsible for signing Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act (which this week was struck down by that nation's high court on a technicality) into law was not blocked from attending the summit in the nation's capital.

Human and gay rights activists have called on Obama to discuss anti-LGBT discrimination at this week's summit.

Ugandan media reports:

The business forum is part of an unprecedented three-day summit underway in Washington, with nearly 50 African heads of state in attendance including President Yoweri Museveni. Obama was hosting the leaders at a White House dinner Tuesday night.
 
At the meeting, U.S. companies announced $14 billion in investments for Africa. Among them: a $5 billion investment from Coca-Cola to fund manufacturing lines and production equipment; $2 billion investment from GE by 2018; $200 million in investments across Africa by Marriott, and a $66 million commitment by IBM to provide technology services to Ghana’s Fidelity Bank.
 
Obama said with the new financial commitments, he was boosting that goal to 60 million homes and businesses.
 
He also announced $7 billion in new government financing to promote U.S. exports to and investments in Africa. That includes $3 billion in financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank aimed at supporting American exports to Africa over the next two years.


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