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Wednesday Speed Read: Barack Obama, DNC, NRCC, Darrkn Gayles, Staci Yandle

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

A PASSIONATE POLITICAL MOMENT: Lgbt_obama

A crowd of LGBT supporters gave President Obama a rousing welcome in New York Tuesday night, with standing ovations and applause that often drowned out one of the most passionate speeches he’s ever delivered to an LGBT audience. President Obama took his expected victory lap through the unprecedented list of accomplishments on LGBT-related issues during his administration, including Monday’s announcement that he will soon sign a long-awaited executive order to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors. But he also promised to “keep fighting” for equality in the workplace and around the world, for people vulnerable to HIV and to hostile governments abroad. The fundraiser was sponsored by the Democratic National Committee and held at the Gotham Hall.

RETURNING THE THANKS:

While President Obama took credit for a great deal of the progress seen on LGBT issues in recent years, he didn’t hog it. In a particularly poignant part of his speech to the LGBT-DNC fundraiser, he said that much of the progress has come because the minds of many Americans have been changed. “And for many people whose minds have changed, it was love that did it -- love for the child or the grandchild, or the friend or the coworker who sat down one day and held their hands and took a deep breath and said, I’m gay. Almost everybody in this room was that child or grandchild or friend or coworker at some point.  And you may not have known it at the time -- it may have seemed like an individual act -- but in those moments when you summoned that courage and reached out with that hopeful love, you were doing it for everybody. And that’s why I’m here tonight, to say thank you for helping make America more just and more compassionate.”

GOP PUMPS MONEY INTO FOUR GAY RACES: Tisei

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Tuesday it will spend at least $18 million trying to win Congressional seats in 16 specific districts. Four of those districts have openly gay candidates in the running. NRCC says it will spend $2.2 million trying to unseat incumbent Democrats John Tierney in Massachusetts, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire, and one other NH Democrat. Tierney’s Republican opponent is expected to be openly gay Richard Tisei (pictured), who lost to Tierney in 2012 by less than one percentage point. Shea-Porter has two Republican challengers who will face off in a September primary, including openly gay candidate Dan Innis. NRCC says it will also pour $1.7 million into the race to defeat incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in San Diego. Peters’ Republican challenger is expected to be Carl DeMaio, an openly gay former San Diego Councilman. And according to politico.com, NRCC says it will also spend just over $1 million to keep Republican incumbent Chris Gibson in his New York Congressional district seat, who openly gay Democrat Sean Eldridge is hoping to beat.

GaylesSENATE CONFIRMS TWO TO BENCH:

The U.S. Senate confirmed two openly gay people to federal district court seats Tuesday. On a 52 to 44 vote, it confirmed the first openly gay person to a federal judgeship in Illinois: Staci Yandle, who will serve the U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois. On a 98 to 0 vote, it confirmed Darrin Gayles, the first openly gay African American man to be named to the federal bench. Gayles will serve the U.S. District Court in Miami. Gayles and Yandle now bring to 11 the number of openly gay appointees to the federal bench under President Obama.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Anti-Equality Party Chair Hopeful Splits Virginia Democratic Party

JonesDemocrats in Virginia will be electing a new party chair next week, and prospect Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is causing a rift in the party over his stance against marriage equality. Presently 71 Central Committee members and 40 local party officers have all signed a petition asserting, “Unless Mayor Jones makes a strong public statement in support of legal marriage equality, we cannot consider supporting him.”

Jones, a Baptist pastor, has expressed his support for general LGBT equality but draws the line at marriage due to his religious beliefs and the Baptist denomination's opposition to marriage equality. In 2006 Jones voted for the constitutional amendment banning the recognition of all same-sex relationships and encouraged the federal government to do the same, distancing himself from supporting Obama after the President endorsed marriage equality.

An anonymous insider said that the anti-LGBT members within the Democratic party are "our Tea Party." 


'Young Democrats of America' President Rod Snyder: I'm Gay

Rod Snyder, the President of the Young Democrats of America, wraps up his three-year tenure at the organization, and comes out of the closet:

SnyderBut in the midst of all this historic progress, I’ve never taken the opportunity to tell my own story – that I am a Christian, an American, a West Virginian, a Young Democrat, a rural advocate, a singer-songwriter, a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, and a gay man.

Growing up in a conservative Christian family in rural West Virginia, my own journey to a place of self acceptance has been a long and difficult one. Over the past two years, now in my early thirties, I’ve finally found the courage to look in the mirror and insist upon honesty and authenticity, overcoming so many negative messages I had internalized as a child and young adult. I’ve reached a place where I believe my story can help increase understanding, provide encouragement and be a catalyst for change.

While society is evolving at a breathtaking pace, there are still many places like my home state of West Virginia where I could be fired from a job or evicted from an apartment simply because of the person I love. I can’t sit by quietly and leave this fight for equality to others. This is my fight.

There are also young LGBT men and women across the country who aspire to careers in public service and need to know that they can achieve success in the political arena. I want to be an example of a leader who succeeds because of my honesty, not in spite of it.

Some Unfinished Business [yda]


Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee Switches from Independent to Democrat

ChafeeRhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has joined the Democratic Party, Politico reports:

Chafee quietly informed President Barack Obama of his intention to affiliate as a Democrat after reaching that decision in private, Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said. The governor’s office confirmed Chafee’s plans after POLITICO reported that the governor had notified national Democrats that he’d be joining the party.

A former Republican who served with Obama in the Senate, Chafee has struggled with perilously low job approval ratings and faces a difficult reelection fight in 2014.


Jason Collins, Michelle Obama Attend LGBT DNC Fundraiser in NYC: PHOTO

Dnc_collins
(twitter jason collins)

Out basketball player Jason Collins, who headlined a DNC LGBT fundraiser last night in New York City, tweeted this photo from the event.

ABC News reports:

Speaking at the DNC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership gala in New York City, Collins, who publicly revealed he was gay for the first time last month, called the first lady “a steadfast champion for LGBT families,” who with her husband is working to convey that “the most important thing that defines a family is love.”

Collins said he hopes his announcement provides “courage to those still unsure about coming out and I hope it shows them the overwhelming amount of support that is waiting for them.”

“Jason, we are so proud of you. We are proud of your talent, your character, your courage, and we are so proud,” the first lady said. “He has just made the difference in the lives of so many of our young people. So let’s give one more round of applause to our friend, Jason Collins. We love you so much, Jason.”

It's not clear how much was raised at the event ( $1,250 and up to $32,400 per person), hosted by Bravo's Andy Cohen, although one powerful donor spoke out yesterday, announcing he was cutting off funds to the DNC over frustration about the lack of movement on immigration and ENDA from the party and the President.


Democratic Donor Withholds Funds Over Immigration, ENDA

Prominent Democratic donor and AFER Board Member Jonathan Lewis is cutting off donations to the party over the exclusion of gay binational couples from the immigration reform bill, the Washington Blade reports:

LewisIn a statement provided to the Washington Blade on Tuesday, the Miami-based philanthropist said he’s turning off the tap for Democrats and urging others to do the same over the immigration issue and President Obama’s reluctance to issue an executive order barring LGBT workplace discrimination.

“During the immigration reform debate Senate Democrats had the opportunity to reverse some of the harm caused by DOMA and they buckled under pressure, essentially taking LGBT families for granted,” Lewis said. “With the president failing to deliver on his promised federal contractor executive order and with Senate Democrats caving to Republican threats, now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric — I will be withholding my donation and asking all of my friends and family members to do the same until such time.”

Lewis accompanied his annnouncement with a blog post called No More Excuses, Mr. President in which he expresses frustration over Obama's unfulfilled LGBT promises.

Writes Lewis:

Last week we saw Democratic senators cave to the threats of Republicans rather than stand up for LGBT bi-national couples on immigration reform. And almost five years into his administration, President Obama still refuses to take the single most effective step he can take to ensure equality of opportunity for millions of LGBT Americans: signing a promised executive order that would require federal contractors to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their existing nondiscrimination policies.

...We've done our part -- over and over and over. Now we need to see concrete steps from the president and Democrats in Congress to address these issues. And we won't accept any more excuses.

The DNC LGBT Leadership Council is holding a major fundraiser tonight in New York City, headlined by recently-out basketball player Jason Collins and Michelle Obama and hsoted by Andy Cohen, asking donors for at least $1,250 and up to $32,400 per person.


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