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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.


Jason Collins to Appear with Michelle Obama at DNC LGBT Fundraiser

Michelle Obama is headlining a May 29 fundraiser for the Democriatic National Committee in New York and NBA center Jason Collins will be there as well, Politico reports:

130503_dnc_image_6051Collins will appear with Obama at the May 29 Democratic National Committee LGBT gala, the source said. The event is Obama's first fundraising stop since President Barack Obama won re-election.

They add:

The May 29 New York event is billed as the DNC’s LGBT Leadership Council 2013 gala and is to be hosted by Andy Cohen, the Bravo TV network executive and host. The DNC is asking donors for at least $1,250 and up to $32,400 per person for the Park Avenue reception, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

Obama will also appear in Boston that day to stump for Markey, who this week defeated Rep. Stephen Lynch in a Democratic primary. Markey faces Republican Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy Seal and political newcomer, in a June 25 special election to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat.


So Who are the Democratic Senate Hold-Outs on Marriage Equality?

Holdouts
(Landrieu, Pryor, and Hagan)

As you've noticed in the last three days, U.S. Senate Democrats have been scrambling to get on board with marriage equality before the Supreme Court hears arguments with Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Warner (VA), and Mark Begich (AK) all signaling their support in the last two days.

So who's left?

TIME reports, and breaks it down:

The 11 remaining Senate Democrats who have not endorsed gay marriage publicly are: Mark Pryor (Ark.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Bill Nelson (Fl.), Jon Tester (Mt.), Tom Carper (Del.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.). They can be broken down into three groups.

The first group was blunt in their opposition. The offices of Senators Manchin, Johnson and Pryor each responded to TIME in one or two sentences point-blank that they still don’t endorse gay marriage. Each of these Senators represents a conservative state, and West Virginia, South Dakota and Arkansas all went heavily for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

TIME hit a wall speaking to the second group — Senators Landrieu, Tester and Donnelly — none of whom responded for comment. Louisiana, Montana and Indiana also went red in the past presidential election. Of the second group, Senator Donnelly might be able to look to his Midwestern neighbor for cover. Donnelly has endorsed benefits for gay partners in the past and said, “I stand with Rob on much of this” after Portman endorsed gay marriage after his son told him he was gay.

The rest — Senators Casey, Nelson, Carper, Heitkamp and Hagan — still do not endorse gay marriage, but are making clear signals that they are more moderate than some. Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown said he “strongly supports civil rights for same-sex couples, while believing marriage should be between a man and a woman.” He added that the decision might be out of the Senator’s hands, as “the issue will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court before the end of the year.”


National Stonewall Democrats Closes Office, Announces 'Hiatus'

The National Stonewall Democrats,  a grassroots network connecting LGBT Democratic activists, is "on hiatus" according to its Executive Director Jerame Davis.

StonewalldemocratsThe Dallas Voice reports:

The organization suspended operations on Jan. 1 but plans a relaunch for 2014.

“A lot of decisions are being made,” Davis told the Voice. “It’s likely our office will be closed for most of this year.”

Davis continues to work as an unpaid volunteer and will use the current office in Washington, D.C., at least through the end of the month. Local and state chapters will continue to operate normally.

The organization recently reported a possible $30,000 deficit.


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