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Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Loses 53 Members Over New $400 Due Requirement

Caucus

Equality has a price, and evidently that price needs to be less than $400 as the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus lost members when they asked for dues in that amount for the first time ever. Last year's membership was 114. This year the Caucus sent out invitations to everyone to join, regardless of political affiliation, and 53 congressmen who were members in years prior have failed to sign up this year. Gallingly, some who failed to renew their membership still list themselves as members on their public-facing webpages, such as Seattle's Jim McDermott or New York's Carolyn Maloney, though a spokesperson for Maloney's office alleges that she has renewed her membership.

For a bit of perspective, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus - founded in '08 by Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank - has one of the lowest dues of standard congressional caucuses. The Progressive Caucus charges $2000, and the Energy and Environment Coalition charges between $850-$2000. What's more is that it doesn't matter that the average congressional annual salary is over $172k because dues payments come from each office's official reimbursement account.

BuzzFeed pulled together the full list of congress members who did not re-up their Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus membership, which is as follows:

Earl Blumenauer, Michael Doyle, Alcee L. Hastings, Beto O’Rourke, Charles Rangel,Eric Swalwell, Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Suzanne Bonamici, Robert Brady, Michael Capuano, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, Yvette Clarke, Gerald Connolly, John Conyers, Joe Courtney, Peter DeFazio,Keith Ellison, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Tulsi Gabbard, Janice Hahn, Brian Higgins,Steve Israel, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr., Joseph Kennedy III,David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Stephen Lynch, Carolyn Maloney, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, Jim McDermott, Gwen Moore, Patrick Murphy, Bill Pascrell, Chellie Pingree, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, Linda Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Adam Smith, Paul Tonko, and Juan Vargas.

It should be noted that though these congress members cover a wide swath of states from California to Texas to New York, every single one of them is a Democrat.


LGBT Members Of Congress Object To Trade Agreement With Anti-Gay Brunei And Malaysia

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Five out gay members of Congress have written to President Obama to ask why Malaysia and Brunei - two countries with severe anti-gay laws - have been included in a free trade pact which the administration is currently negotiating and seeking to fast-track, reports Buzzfeed News.

Ddcda4647e4d3900da0f2b57c8fd68bd_400x400Sent yesterday, the letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan, David Cicilline (above left), Sean Patrick Maloney (above middle), Kyrsten Sinema (above right) and Mark Takano, five of the six co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also includes several other nations in Asia and Latin America, became a serious concern for gay rights groups last year after the sultan of Brunei imposed a version of sharia law that included a punishment of death by stoning for homosexuality. Some states in Malaysia also have criminal sharia codes, and the government is appealing a court ruling striking down a law that criminalizes transgender people.

The five representatives argue in the letter that although Obama’s administration announced in December that it would remove the Gambia from a trade pact for African nations because of a crackdown on gay rights, negotiations continue with Brunei and Malaysia.

The letter reads in part:

“In light of the decision to end trade preferences for Gambia, we write today to ask for clarification on the inclusion of Brunei and Malaysia in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“These two countries are responsible for severe human rights abuses, including adopting penal codes permitting the imprisonment and physical harm of LGBT people. It seems inconsistent for the United States to expand trade privileges to these two countries while taking action against Gambia.”

Jared Polis, the sixth Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair, is the only out member of Congress who did not sign the letter.


80 Congressional Democrats Call Bull On One Year Gay Blood Deferral, Urge Obama Administration To Lift Ban

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Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, along with 78 other congressional Democrats, urged the Obama Administration to lift the ban on gay men donating blood on Monday, calling the 1983 policy archaic and a scientifically unjustified barrier reports BuzzFeedThe two lawmakers wrote a detailed letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell.

BloodThe lawmakers' request comes after the FDA reaffirmed that it will not repeal the longstanding ban on gay blood. The request also addresses the recommendation by the Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability's relaxation on the lifetime ban to instead ban donations from men who have had sex with men in the previous year. However, the lawmakers believe both policies are unfair saying, "both policies are discriminatory, and both approaches are unacceptable.”

In the letter the lawmakers request that the ban should be replaced with a "risk-based blood donation policy.” The most poignant part of the letter addresses the common objection of gay men donating blood; that gay men tend to be higher carriers of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.

Said lawmakers:

“The pertinent scientific question is not whether a cross-section of the population is more likely than another to transmit an infection, but rather whether an across-the-board, risk-based screening will reduce the likelihood of all infectious contaminations.”

Two other letters were addressed in the past concerning the ban however, the latest letter explicitly lays out the lawmakers’ policy platform and asks Secretary Burwell several pointed questions. The prominent question is will Burwell "Commit to replacing the lifetime deferral policy by the end of 2014?" And if a blood-screening network is established, when would it be functional, and would it need to be up and running to roll back the ban?

The lawmakers expect Burwell to address the matter before or on Dec. 22. 

Read the letter below:


Labor Department Takes Final Step Towards Implementing LGBT Anti-Discrimination Executive Order: VIDEO

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The Labor Department yesterday announced that a new rule required to implement President Obama’s executive order banning workplace discrimination against LGBT government employees is now final, reports the Washington Blade.

Signing the executive order on July 21st, Obama said:

"It doesn't make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that's wrong. We're here to do what we can to make it right -- to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction."

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73defccdf970d-200wiAlthough the order was signed in July, the process wasn’t yet complete because the Labor Department and the Office of Management & Budget had to draft a rule to implement the measure.

Once this final rule is published, it will become effective 120 days later and apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a statement:

“Americans believe in fairness and opportunity. No one should live in fear of being fired or passed over or discriminated against at work simply because of who they are or who they love.

"Laws prohibiting workplace discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity are long overdue, and we’re taking a big step forward today to fix that.”

Patricia Shiu, head of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is responsible for enforcing the order, said:

“We are building on the work of presidents and members of Congress from both parties who have expanded opportunities for America’s workers.

"This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars.”

The Labor Department has published Frequently Asked Questions for the final rule, known as EO 13672 Final Rule.

A group of about 140 religious leaders and advocates for religious freedom had petitioned the president for an exemption for faith-based groups.

Watch President Obama announce the executive order a White House reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Full Frontal Freedom Encourages LGBT People To V**E Next Week - VIDEO

Full Frontal Freedom - I Love To Vote

Full Frontal Freedom, a coalition of independent artists aiming to encourage civic participation, has just dropped a video encouraging LGBT people to vote in next week's mid-term elections.

Definitely *not* NSFW, watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Full Frontal Freedom Encourages LGBT People To V**E Next Week - VIDEO" »


Check Out This Michigan Candidate's Awesome Response to Anti-gay Bigotry: READ

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Josh Derke, a Democratic candidate for state representative from Michigan's 93rd House District, has made public an awesome pro-LGBT letter he sent to anti-gay listed hate group Public Advocate of the United States (PAUC) having received a survey from the group, reports The Advocate.

Derke says that when he received the "2014 Michigan Family Values Survey" - which he refers to as “a pile of excrement” - from the Michigan-based PAUC, his jaw dropped.

The survey demanded that candidates "pledge to refuse any donation from the Homosexual Lobby or their allies — especially from Tim Gill or Paul Singer” or face being accused of supporting the “Anti-Family Agenda."

Writing on his blog, Derke said:

"I have received some pretty outrageous letters and surveys before, but I just couldn’t be silent about this. I chose not to participate in their survey. I couldn’t. … I elected instead to send a letter. Their survey was hurtful; I have family, and many friends, that are LGBT. They’re not immoral, and they’re not seeking special privileges."

Derke's letter, directed to PAUC’s Eugene Delgaudio - who was recently censured by the Republican party for misuse of county funds - is one of the best and most entertaining replies to anti-gay bigots that are likely ever to read.

PhotoLast year, Delgaudio's group was sued for stealing a New Jersey couple's wedding photo  for use in an anti-gay political mailing [pictured right].

Apologizing to Delgaudio for his lack of support of the homophobic agenda, Derke says that the gays have “already dug their fabulously manicured claws into me, and I am afraid to report that I have been brainwashed into mindless support of the Homosexual Agenda.”

Worth quoting at length, the letter makes clear to the hate group that the “homosexual agenda” is “a phantom of your own creation":

“Would that it were that your erudite survey had reached my desk earlier, ere I succumbed to their influence, my mind might yet be unshackled from the horrible idea that all people deserve equal treatment and dignity.

“Let me tell you what pro-family is, Eugene. Pro-family is standing by your gay brother for merely being who he is. Pro-family is accepting your cousins, your friends, and homosexual parents across the globe for who they are. It is recognizing that all credible studies that have explored the issue of gay and lesbian parents have shown that they raise well-adjusted children who are just as successful as those raised by straight parents. Pro-family means that you’re not going to rip established families apart because you can’t see through the veil of your own self-defeating prejudices.

“Pro-family is not demonizing and dehumanizing people because they’re different than you are. It is not labeling a group of people immoral because you don’t understand human sexuality.

"I am far from silent on pro-family issues. I am, in fact, vociferous. I imagine that it is a voice you’d rather be silent. The truth is that there is no homosexual agenda. There is no homosexual lobby. There are only people — men, women, transgendered, and others — who deserve equal treatment under the law, and equal respect in our society. Human beings with dignity, who love and are loved, in return.

“You signed the letter as “HON. EUGENE DELGAUDIO,” but there is nothing honorable about your letter, your survey, or your conduct. You and your group should be ashamed of sending this pile of excrement. And I hope that if there is even a shred of humanity within you that you feel a twinge of guilt and shame for comparing loving couples and parents to pedophiles.”

Josh Derke now has a fundraising page up at JoshDerke.ruck.us. Read the cover letter to the survey he received from the PAUC, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Check Out This Michigan Candidate's Awesome Response to Anti-gay Bigotry: READ" »


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