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President Obama: The U.S. Remains Committed to 'Ensuring No One Is Left Behind' in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Obama

Ahead of World AIDS Day tomorrow, President Obama has released a proclamation reflecting on the three decades of progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the work that still needs to be done to ensure "no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus."

Via press release:

Since I took office, more people who are infected with HIV have learned of their status, allowing them to access the essential care that can improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent transmission of the virus to others. My
Administration has made strides to limit new infections and reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequalities, and we have nearly eliminated the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. For many, with testing and access to the right treatment, a disease that was once a death sentence now offers a good chance for a healthy and productive life.

Despite these gains, too many with HIV/AIDS, especially young Americans, still do not know they are infected; too many communities, including gay and bisexual men, African Americans, and Hispanics remain disproportionately impacted; and too many individuals continue to bear the burden of discrimination and stigma. There is more work to do, and my Administration remains steadfast in our commitment to defeating this disease. Guided by our National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we are working to build a society where every person has access to life-extending care, regardless of who they are or whom they love. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as HIV/AIDS, and requires that most health plans cover HIV screenings without copays for everyone ages 15 to 65 and others at increased risk. We have expanded opportunities for groundbreaking research, and we continue to invest in innovation to develop a vaccine and find a cure. And this summer, my Administration held a series of listening sessions across the country to better understand the successes and challenges of those fighting HIV at the local and State level. 

In the face of a disease that extends far beyond our borders, the United States remains committed to leading the world in the fight against HIV/AIDS and ensuring no one is left behind. Hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every year, and we are working to reach and assist them and every community in need. As part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, over 7 million people with HIV around the globe are receiving antiretroviral treatment, a four-fold increase since the start of my Administration. In countries throughout the world, our initiatives are improving the lives of women and girls, accelerating life-saving treatment for children, and supporting healthy, robust communities.

As a Nation, we have made an unwavering commitment to bend the curve of the HIV epidemic, and the progress we have seen is the result of countless people who have shared their stories, lent their strength, and led the fight to spare others theanguish of this disease. Today, we remember all those who lost their battle with HIV/AIDS, and we recognize those who agitated and organized in their memory. On this day, let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible -- when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus.


SNL's Obama Pushes 'Schoolhouse Rock' Bill Down Capitol Steps in Immigration Reform Spoof: VIDEO

Schoolhouse

Saturday Night Live's cold open last night brought us all back to the beloved Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock educational short cartoons that educated us on science, history, grammar, and government.

This time it was the familiar "I'm Only a Bill" which was given a twist thanks to this week's Executive Order from Obama on immigration reform.

Watch it all go down, and down, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "SNL's Obama Pushes 'Schoolhouse Rock' Bill Down Capitol Steps in Immigration Reform Spoof: VIDEO" »


LGBT Groups Remain 'Deeply' Dissatisfied with President Obama's Immigration Order

Obama

President Obama's announced executive action to provide temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants was met with lukewarm reception from LGBT rights groups concerned the proposal leaves out a disproportionate number of undocumented LGBT immigrants. 

Said Francisco Dueñas, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad at Lambda Legal:

"While we praise President Obama’s efforts to do what is in his executive power to improve immigration, we are deeply disappointed that his plan unfairly excludes many members of the LGBT community.  President Obama’s plan allows immigrants who have children who are citizens or  lawful permanent residents to obtain legal work documents and temporarily be protected from deportation. 
 
"We urge President Obama to undertake reforms that are more LGBT-inclusive, such as recognizing length of residency as a stand-alone qualification. Thousands of LGBT immigrants, many who have fled countries where LGBT people are unprotected and subjected to horrific abuse and violence, have been waiting for humane immigration reform for years due to Congressional inaction and cannot afford to wait any longer.

In a separate statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Maya Rupert said that while she welcomed this "first step" towards ending the country's "broken and discriminatory" immigration system, more can be done to ensure the system is "inclusive and humane for all."

Said Rupert:

ImmigrationLGBT families are less likely to have legally recognized or biological relationships with each other, and thus relief based wholly on familial ties will exclude too many LGBT families. In addition, many of the restrictions requiring consistent employment and limiting access for people with non-violent criminal histories will disproportionately impact LGBT immigrants, especially in the transgender community.”


Senate Confirms Openly Gay Foreign Service Officer as Vietnam Ambassador

Pursuit-Ted Osius_SLQTTed Osius — an openly gay Foreign Service officer — is set to become the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.

While the appointment was confirmed on Monday by a voice vote in the Senate, President Obama first made the nomination all the way back in May of this year.

The Washington Blade reports that as an ambassador, Osius plans to direct his attention to areas of "security, nonproliferation, and law enforcement" in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship.

His experience thus far has been centered mostly around Asia — with the Foreign Service, he has worked in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and India. He's also served as an associate professor at the National War College and as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Osius is the seventh openly gay person nominated by Obama to serve as a U.S. ambassador.

Four other ambassadors were confirmed with him at the voice vote Monday.


Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) Claims Obama Is Prioritizing LGBT Rights And Ignoring Religious Persecution Abroad: AUDIO

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado expressed on Thursday with Family Research Council's "Washington Watch," that the Obama administration is more concerned with defending LGBT rights than preventing religious persecution abroad reports Right Wing Watch.

Said Rep. Lamborn:

Lamborn"We have the sad situation of persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East and other parts of the country, including Christians and other various sects out there, that are being really persecuted, sometimes they’re being beheaded or crucified or tortured because of their religious views. So the State Department, you would think, would want to be all over that, would want to be pressing for countries to be respecting the rights of religious minorities.

"But it seems like they are really more motivated and active promoting things like lesbian and gay rights, transgendered (sic) rights and those kind of issues to the neglect of religious prosecution (sic). And I just want them to pay attention to the severe and deadly prosecution (sic) of Christians and other religious people wherever that occurs in the world."

Lamborn ignores the fact that President Obama ordered airstrikes in Iraq this summer to deter ISIS violence against Christians, Yazidis and other muslims. Media Matters for America cited several instances where President Obama addressed ISIS violence and genocide in early August, with mentions of Christians fleeing their homes to avoid ISIS' onslaught. President Obama and National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Christian leaders from the middle east to discuss the plight of Christians under ISIS' oppressive regime. The administration also freed several Christians imprisoned abroad including Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a child in prison while shackled to the prison floor, before suffering a cruel fate at the hands of the Sudanese government after she was accused of abandoning the Muslim faith and committing adultery.

And yet the religious right's persecution complex continues, with Lamborn and Family Research Council's Tony Perkins claiming Obama continues to ignore the rights of Christians within the U.S. and believing Christianity will soon end up becoming criminalized. However, Perkins is perfectly content with anti-LGBT laws and even praised Uganda's "Kill the Gays," bill. FRC meanwhile has a habit of capitalizing and exploiting current events to further their religious agenda, including blatant disrespect for the recently deceased.


President Obama May Issue Executive Order on Immigration As Early As Next Week

Reports are coming in that President Obama will sign an exectuive order as early as next week that would protect up to 5 million undocument immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many with work permits. 

Citing an unnamed administration official, The New York Times writes:

ObamaAsserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away. [...]

Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.

Citing the political volatility of such an executive order, The Washington Post adds:

ImmigrationRepublicans have made very clear if Obama goes forward, it would be the equivalent of giving the middle finger to their incoming majority -- and, by extension, the American public that helped the GOP gain seats in the House and Senate. At a new conference held the day after last week's election, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) compared Obama signing an executive order on immigration to "waving a red flag in front of a bull." Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) said Obama will "burn himself" if he moves forward, and, on Thursday, promised to fight the move.


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