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Douglas M. Brooks Appointed As Director Of Office Of National AIDS Policy

President Obama announced on Monday that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW (pictured), a gay man living with HIV and a community leader in Boston, has been appointed the director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Prior to the appointment, Brooks served as the senior vice president for community, health, and public policy at Boston's Justice Resource Institute (JRI). He also has federal experience; in 2010 he was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, serving as the point-person for the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee. 

BrooksVia the Press Secretary:

"Douglas's policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach," said President Obama. "I look forward to having him lead our efforts from the White House." 

A component of the White House Domestic Policy Council, ONAP coordinates the ongoing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the HIV Care Continuum initiative, while working together with public and private partners to advance the federal response to HIV/AIDS. ONAP also works with the White House National Security Council, the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and international bodies to ensure that America's response to the global pandemic is fully integrated with prevention, care, and treatment efforts around the world. Through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative, the U.S. has made enormous progress in responding to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, working with countries heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS to help expand access to treatment, care, and prevention

Congratulations to Mr. Brooks! Though the task of infection reduction and improved health is an arduous one, his credentials would suggest that the community living with HIV/AIDS has a great advocate in their corner. 

Photo via Justice Resource Institute

Obama Tells Ellen That Her Record-Breaking Oscar Selfie Was a 'Cheap Stunt': VIDEO


President Obama beamed into Ellen for an interview, presumably as part of the Affordable Care Act marketing push as they focus on it at the end of the interview, but they also get a chance to talk about tattoos, minimum wage, going to the Gap, as well as House of Cards and Scandal.

Said Obama: “You know, I watch House of Cards. I haven’t seen Scandal yet, but Michelle has watched Scandal. I have to tell you, life in Washington is a little more boring than displayed on the screen...You know the truth of the matter is, if you followed me, most of my day is sitting in a room listening to a bunch of folks in grey suits talking about a whole bunch of stuff that wouldn’t make very good television."

Ellen also boasts about breaking his retweet record with her Oscar selfie, which the President calls a "cheap stunt."


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195 Lawmakers, All Dems, Sign Letter Urging Obama to Protect LGBT Workers in Executive Order

A group of 195 U.S. lawmakers (148 House members and 47 Senators) has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to issue and executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against LGBT Americans.

HoyerThe letter reads:

We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a “year of action” and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, “now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it.”

As we continue to work towards final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support, we urge you to take action now to protect millions of workers across the country from the threat of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; however, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step. This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor. When combined with ENDA, these non-discrimination protections would parallel those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.

An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace. In 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin. In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded these protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.

In addition, most of the largest government contractors – companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin – have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place. They adopted them because business leaders recognize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line.

Finally, time is of the essence. Even with an executive order in place, full implementation of these protections will require regulations to be developed and finalized, a process that will take many months, if not longer, to fully put in place.

Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.

For House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD, pictured) and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC), it's the first time signing such a letter. Pelosi and Reid did not sign, noting they do not sign group letters.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did not sign the letter. Last week it was reported that she had discouraged House members from signing it, a charge which her spokesperson called a "bald-faced lie."

The Washington Blade adds:

Not a single Republican signed the letter. Not one of the 10 Republicans who voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate late last year any of the six GOP co-sponsors of ENDA in the House penned their name to the missive.

Said Ian Thompson, the ACLU's legislative representative, who helped gather signatures for the letter:

“This letter, and the breadth of support for it, makes clear what we have long argued: we need both ENDA and a non-discrimination executive order for federal contractors. This executive order represents the most important step President Obama can take on his own during the remainder of his term in office to eradicate LGBT discrimination from workplaces in America. There is no reason for further delay.”

Read the letter below:

LGBT Executive Order Letter 3/18/14

Judith Levy Confirmed as U.S. District Judge, is First Out Gay Person on Federal Court in Michigan

Judith Levy, nominated in July by President Obama, has been confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in a 97-0 vote, the Washington Blade reports:

LevyLevy, who was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan since 2000 and chief of the civil rights unit for that office over the past three years. The American Bar Association gave her a rating of “unanimously qualified.”

According to her questionnaire, Levy has been a member of the Human Rights Campaign from 2001 to present and is board member for DOJ Pride, the affinity group for LGBT employees at the Justice Department. She’ll become the first openly LGBT person to serve on federal court in Michigan.

Gay Politics adds:

Prior to her appointment, Levy served as the director of the University of Michigan’s Law School’s Public Interest/Public Service Faculty Fellows. She also served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Eastern Michigan since 2000 and was the Chief of the Civil Rights Unit since 2010.

Zach Galifianakis Interviews President Obama for 'Between Two Ferns': VIDEO


In an effort to get people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, President Obama sat down with Zach Galifianakis on his Funny or Die web interview series "Between Two Ferns" and touched on a barrage of typically silly topics including sending Ambassador Rodman to North Korea, erecting his presidential library in Kenya, letting his son play football, who he rooted for in the Sochi Winter Olympics, and whether he'll outlaw same-sex divorce.


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Shirtless Obama Stands Up to Putin with the Help of Liam Neeson in SNL Cold Open: VIDEO


In SNL's cold open, Liam Neeson arrived to help the President of the United States speak to Vladimir Putin in a language he can understand.


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