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04/19/2007


US Sen. Chuck Schumer Calls Vladimir Putin "Schoolyard Bully", Wants Rainbow Flag At Olympics

Chuck Schumer
Last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer publicly ridiculed Russian president Vladimir Putin over his support of the country's recent anti-gay legislation, calling him a "schoolyard bully". RiaNovosti reports that, yesterday, during an episode of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Schumer expanded on his critical remarks, and called for LGBT athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to wave rainbow flags:

"When we march initially, all the countries should wave the multicolored flag for gay rights. That would be pretty embarrassing for Putin, let our athletes participate and still take a stand."

Schumer's words sought to address questions as to whether the United States or the International Olympic Commission should boycott Russia for any upcoming games, including the ones scheduled for 2014. "All these athletes train for so long," he said, adding that, "standing up to Putin right now is important because he’s a bully." 

"He resents being an old KGB guy, being brought up when the Soviet Union and the US went head to head...He resents that Russia is no longer the major power in the world that it used to be. Its population, of course, with all the states – Ukraine, all the Baltic states, the east Asian states gone -- they’re no longer a big power."

Sochi Olympic Rings
The Democratic Senator has a previous record of supporting LGBT rights. However accurate, promising, or potentially inspiring his remarks may be, it is still worth noting that the Russian Interior Ministry has stated that the country's anti-gay "propaganda" law will be enforced during the games. Both the IOC and US government have announced that they are working towards a solution that will protect LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators attending the games. No word has yet been released as to how successful these entities have been as of late. 

The White House has previously announced that it will be boycotting a summit meeting being held by Putin next month in Moscow. Unfortunately, this boycott surrounds Russia's refusal to hand over controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to RiaNovosti. This boycott should certainly prove disheartening to anyone hoping that Putin and President Obama will be able to reach any sort of viable compromise in the near future. 


Efforts to Include Gay Binational Couples in Immigration Reform Spurned by Senate Panel

Gay and lesbian binational couples have been thrown under the bus on immigration reform. Senator Patrick Leahy withdrew his amendment to the comprehensive bill, Buzzfeed reports:

LeahyA little past 7 p.m., Leahy said, “It is with a heavy heart … I will withhold the Leahy Amendment 7 at this point.” Leahy offered the amendment a half-hour earlier, saying, “I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country.”

He added, “Discriminating against people based on who they love is a travesty,” noting that he wanted to hear from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators about why they didn’t include protections for gay couples in the bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham went first, saying he opposed the inclusion of gay couples’ protections in the bill. “If you redefine marriage for immigration purposes [by the amendment], the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart,” he said. “It would be a bridge too far.”

More at Buzzfeed including Leahy's statemtn.

Other senators followed suit, saying the amendment would destroy the bill's chances.

SchumerSaid Senator Schumer, who had been under intense pressure from LGBT advocates this week and even called a meeting of them in his office:

"This is one of the most excruciating decisions I have had to make in my [time] in Congress. … Not to do this is rank discrimination....They’ve made it perfectly clear that if this provision is included … they will abandon [the bill.] … If we make the effort to add it to this bill, they will walk away. … The result, no equality, no immigration bill, everyone loses. … Much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it will bring down the bill.’"

Said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality Action Fund, in a statement in response to the abandonment:

"Despite the leadership of Chairman Leahy, Judiciary Committee Democrats have caved to bullying by their Republican colleagues. There should be shame on both sides of the political aisle today for lawmakers who worked to deny LGBT immigrant families a vote. Despite widespread support from business, labor, faith, Latino and Asian-American advocates, Senators abandoned LGBT families without a vote. From the beginning we told Senator Schumer that it would only get harder to add LGBT families to the bill. We are disappointed that Senator Schumer and his 'Gang of 8' colleagues accepted a false choice between LGBT families and immigration reform, when the truth is that including LGBT families from the outset would have strengthened the bill."

HRC's Chad Griffin released a statement as well:

"As we come together as a nation to tackle our broken immigration system, it is deplorable that a small number of Senators have been able to stand in the way of progress for lesbian and gay couples torn apart by discriminatory laws. Instead of working to achieve common-sense solutions, Senators Graham, Flake, McCain and Rubio threatened to derail the entire immigration bill to appease a small but vocal group of anti-gay social conservatives that will do anything to stop progress for lesbian and gay couples. We are extremely disappointed that our allies did not put their anti-LGBT colleagues on the spot and force a vote on the measure that remains popular with the American people. We will continue to work hard to include bi-national same-sex couples as the bill moves to the floor and remain committed to the underlying principles of inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform. We owe it to the estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT adults and estimated 24,700 LGBT bi-national couples living in the U.S. today to get the job done."


LGBT Advocates Hammer Senate Dems Over Gay-Inclusive Immigration

As Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appear ready to throw gay-inclusive legislation under the bus, advocates are reacting furiously.

SchumerRichard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, suggests that Schumer's behavior teaches the world that gays are not as deserved of equality as everyone else, and therefore he is sending that signal to those who might harm us:

It may not be fair to connect the historically thorny debate over immigration reform and issues of employment discrimination to the horrific and fatal events of this weekend in Greenwich Village. No one is suggesting that opposition to civil-rights protections for gay Americans is an open endorsement of hatred. But when our national leaders have a debate about whether or not to treat gay Americans the same as everybody else, it sends a powerful message that perhaps gays are not entitled to equality. Why not? Is the argument still that they are not as good as other citizens or that they are engaged in some immoral or otherwise improper behavior—that they shouldn’t be walking around openly at night?

The people who commit hate crimes get the idea that their victims are fair targets from somewhere. The movement for gay rights may in fact have some “political power” behind it now, as Justice Roberts also went out of his way to point out, but gay Americans do not have equality, and they still can and are targeted for discrimination and violence every day, even on the streets of Greenwich Village.

FeinsteinAnd Lavi Soloway unleashes at The DOMA PROJECT:

Despite hearing from tends of thousands of constituents in recent weeks, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) have not budged. They will refuse to vote for either amendment, and as a result, Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, will likely not call either of his LGBT amendments (the one based on the Uniting American Families Act, which I helped write 14 years ago, or his historic and unexpected Marriage Equality “DOMA Carve Out” exception) for a vote knowing that the amendment will fail to garner the necessary 10 out of 10 Democratic votes to pass out of Committee.

The betrayal of our community by Senator Schumer who voted for DOMA as a member of the House and fought for gay votes when he ran for Senate despite HRC’s controversial endorsement of his incumbent opponent, Republican Alphonse D’Amato, is appalling to put it mildly. After all his promises to fight for LGBT inclusion, he has signaled day after day that he won’t upset the bipartisan Gang of Eight applecart. Dianne Feinstein, who, 35 years ago, became Mayor of San Francisco after the assassination of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, has once again failed to provide leadership when the going got tough. Her leadership on the repeal of DOMA (Respect for Marriage Act) notwithstanding, this was the moment that counted. This was the moment that required courage and leadership. The most vulnerable members of our community relied on Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein to stand up for us and end decades of catastrophic and irreparable harm to our families caused by DOMA and our exclusion from US immigration law.

Today, it seems clear, they will betray us.


Pressured Senator Chuck Schumer Calls Meeting of Gay Elected Officials Over Immigration Bill

SchumerSenator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called a meeting of Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, former State Sen. Tom Duane, and a representative for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn regarding pressure he's feeling over including a provision for gay couples in comprehensive immigration reform, Politico reports:

“Sen. Schumer called the meeting because he is in trouble with a key constituency,” said Rachel Tiven of the group Immigration Equality. She attended the gathering and has been vocal in her criticism of Schumer on the issue.

Tiven said she couldn’t discuss what Schumer said since the May 10 meeting in his Manhattan office was off the record, but several attendees said the sentiment was clear: it would be unforgivable if the provision were omitted.

O’Donnell and Tiven were reportedly "the most vocal" in the meeting.

PREVIOUSLY...
Schumer, Senate Democrats Under Pressure on Gay-Inclusive Immigration Reform [tlrd]
Schumer Won't Commit to Voting for Gay-Inclusive Immigration Amendments: VIDEO [tlrd]
Sen. Leahy Formally Submits Immigration Bill Amendments to Include Gay Couples [tlrd]
Obama: 'LGBT Community Should Be Treated Like Everybody Else' - VIDEO [tlrd]
LGBT Groups React to Threats Against LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform Bill [tlrd]
Immigration Bill, GOP on Collision Course with Gay Rights, LGBT Families [tlrd]


Schumer, Senate Democrats Under Pressure on Gay-Inclusive Immigration Reform

Getequal_schumer
(chris johnson - twitter)

Senate Democrats are increasingly nervous about the prospects of gay-inclusive amendments filed last week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) killing the comprehensive immigration reform bill, Politico reports:

After strategically keeping the White House at a distance, some key Democrats are privately advocating for the president himself to ask Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chief proponent of the measure, to hold off on offering the amendment until the floor debate, where it’s unlikely to pass.

“He is working behind the scenes,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a Gang of Eight member, told POLITICO when asked whether Democrats wanted Obama to get involved, although declined to get into details. “Obviously it is Sen. Leahy’s call.”

Leahy said he spoke with Obama on Wednesday, but the issue didn’t come up. Even if it did, Leahy said, a presidential intervention wouldn’t necessarily sway him.

“I am the most senior member of the Senate, I’m an experienced chairman. He’s happy I’m handling immigration,” Leahy said. “He hasn’t suggested whether I should or shouldn’t do it because he knows I’ll make up my own mind.”

It's also still unclear whether Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would vote for the amendments, they add:

After the Gang of Eight didn’t include the protections in the underlying bill, Schumer assured advocates that the issue would get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee, the most favorable venue for passing the amendment because the threshold is a simple majority, rather than the filibuster-proof majority on the Senate floor.

But now [LGBT advocates] are worried that might not even happen.

2_schumerEarlier, today, Schumer received, via hand delivery from the advocacy group GetEQUAL in coordination with the pro-immigrant organizations Presente.org, DRM Action and Uniting We Dream, 6,500 petitions urging him to include gay binational couples as part of the legislation.

Reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of GetEQUAL, personally handed the names to Schumer’s staff on Thursday as part of a group of about a half-dozen activists.

“It’s interesting because he’s making a political mistake,” Sousa-Rodriguez told the Blade. “The whole reason why this is even happening is because of Latinos, and Latinos hold the key to the White House. But 64 percent of voters support the inclusion of same-sex couples in immigration reform and 59 percent of Latino voters support same-sex marriage. Latinos have turned a page, the country has turned a page, but D.C. keeps being stuck in the ’90s.”

A Brazilian native who’s married to a U.S. citizen, Sousa-Rodriguez is an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States at a young age and would be able to gain citizenship through a marriage-based green card application if the immigration reform included the provision for bi-national couples.

More at the Blade...


Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Won't Commit to Voting for Gay-Inclusive Immigration Amendments: VIDEO

Leahy

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) won't commit to voting for gay amendments filed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) if offered up for the immigration reform bill, the NYT reports:

Schumer“I would like very much to see it in the bill, but we have to have a bill that has support to get UAFA passed. That’s the conundrum. Because if there’s no bill, there’s no UAFA, either.”

He added: "Look, this one is something I worry about all the time. I’m a good sleeper, but I wake up in the morning thinking of these things, sometimes early in the morning.”

The paper adds:

Mr. Leahy’s amendments, if offered, promise to create a politically sticky situation for Democrats in the bipartisan group like Mr. Schumer, who personally support the measures but are hesitant to vote for anything they believe could hurt the broader bill. Though Mr. Schumer is already facing pressure from gay rights groups, he declined to say how he might vote.

“I’m not going to get into speculatives,” he said.

Watch an interview Politico did with Leahy about the amendments, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Won't Commit to Voting for Gay-Inclusive Immigration Amendments: VIDEO" »


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