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DNC's Openly Gay National Political Director Sounds Off On LGBT Rights: VIDEO

Alvillar_insert_ccourtesy_White_House2

Last March, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz named longtime operative Raul Alvillar as the party's new political director. 

Alvillar, the first Latino to serve in the position, is also openly gay. 

He previously worked for Vice President Joe Biden and served as interim LGBT liaison for the White House for three months in 2011. Alvillar also worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 and for the John Kerry campaign in 2004, according to a story about his appointment in The Washington Blade.  

In an interview with Fox News Latino published Friday, Alvillar — who grew up in southern New Mexico — sounded off on LGBT rights:  

“Growing up LGBT in a small town, you didn’t talk about it,” Alvillar said. “Especially as a Hispanic male, there’s this expectation that you will have a wife and three kids and a minivan … That’s just how I grew up. Not knowing any other folks who were gay, you kind of feel like it’s not a ‘normal’ thing.

“I didn’t come out until I was in college, and even then I only came out to my sister,” he admitted. “I didn’t come out to my mother until I went back to New Mexico for my 10-year high school class reunion. I told her, ‘There’s something I have to tell you because I don’t want you to feel I haven’t been honest.’ She was immediately concerned and then I told her, ‘I’m gay.’ She was like, ‘Oh, okay,’ and was totally relieved. She thought I was going to tell her I was sick.”

But Alvillar notes that even in rural America, attitudes are changing:  

“I think people in Smalltown, USA,” he said, “recognize that there are people who are their brothers and sisters and cousins – people who are important to them, who they embrace, who are everyday people – who happen to be LGBT.”

He added, “Does that mean that the fight is over? No. Have we accomplished everything we need to for full inclusion in this country? No, there’s still a lot that we need to do. But the country is a better place.”

In fact, things have changed so much that Alvillar believes coming out actually helped him professionally. From an interview with Pink News last year: 

“I think for me, coming out was an advantage for me [in my job]. I think that the Democratic Party embraces diversity and is looking for that diversity. It was something that was advantageous to me. Not to say that it was the only reason why I’m in the positions I’m in. I’ve always said in the past that I’m Raul, I’m not gay Raul and I’m not Hispanic Raul. I’m just Raul. I’m here, I’m doing my job and we’re doing our jobs to get Democrats elected, whatever ethnicity or whatever sexual preference you might be.”

Watch a White House video of discussing his first job, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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John Kerry to Appoint U.S. Envoy to Protect and Advance LGBT Rights Internationally

The State Department has announced Secretary of State John Kerry will soon appoint a special diplomatic envoy to promote LGBT rights abroad, The Washington Post reports:

KerryThe appointee will be an openly gay career diplomat, the State Department said in a statement.

In the past, Kerry has advocated for LGBT rights himself. He released a statement last year condemning Uganda’s anti-homosexual legislation, which later became law in that country, and he has worked with groups trying to discourage Eastern European media from portraying gays negatively. [...]

Human rights advocates applauded Kerry’s plan for the special envoy last week. Human Rights First legal counsel Shawn Gaylord called it a “major milestone in the fight for equality worldwide, sending an important message to foreign governments that protecting the rights of LGBT people will remain a key foreign policy priority of the United States well beyond the current administration.”

The State Department plan mirrors legislation proposed last month by Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Alan Lowenthal. 


Ted Osius, First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador in East Asia, Sworn In: VIDEO

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Yesterday, Ted Osius III was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry as the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Osius is the first openly gay U.S. ambasaddor to serve in East Asia.

Said Secretary Kerry at the swearing-in ceremony:

When Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked. Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond. And we issue family visas for same-sex couples, and with the help of Pat Kennedy, OPM has removed exclusionary language from health insurance plans regarding gender transitions.

Folks, that’s part of the message we want to send to the world: example, leading by example, that we point to our flaws – and we just did so yesterday in a pretty bold way – but we do so understanding that’s the way you make things better in the long run, and that every day we are redefining the meaning of our great American experiment.

Watch the ceremony here. You can also check out a video message Osius sent to the people of Vietnam shortly before his confirmation, AFTER THE JUMP...

HRC's Legislative Counsel Remington Gregg adds:

Osius2Osius becomes the seventh openly LGBT individual to be confirmed as an ambassador during the Obama Administration.  With more than 90 million citizens, Vietnam is the world’s 13th most populous country.

Osius is a former career diplomat who has served in Indonesia, India, Thailand, the Vatican, Philippines, and Vietnam, and was a senior advisor for international affairs during the Clinton Administration.  Osius is married and has one son.

Currently, Vietnam does not recognizes same-sex marriage even though the Vietnamese health minister recommended legalization, citing research which shows that stigmatization faced by LGBT people can have serious health consequences. 

[bottom photo via Facebook]

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John Kerry Points Finger at Russia Over Downing of MH17: VIDEO

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Secretary of State John Kerry pointed fingers at Russia over the crash of MH17 over Ukraine.

Said Kerry:

"We know from intercepts ... that those are in fact the voices of separatists. And now we have a video showing a launcher moving back through a particular area there out into Russia with at least one missing missile on it....This is the moment of truth for Russia. Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists. And Russia has not yet done the things necessary in order to try to bring them under control."

Watch Kerry on CNN's State of the Union and FOX News Sunday, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Secretary of State John Kerry Speaks at LGBT Pride Event at State Department: VIDEO

Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the annual Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies Pride Celebration on Thursday, speaking about the State Departments accomplishments for LGBT people under his tenure, praising Robyn McCutcheon, the first out transgender foreign service officer as well as Russian journalist Masha Gessen for her work exposing human rights abuses against LGBT people.

Kerry spoke about his pride at being the first sitting Secretary of State to support same-sex marriage and discussed the growing number of out LGBT people now working at foreign U.S. agencies worldwide, citing the activists (including our own David Mixner) who have helped the movement along the way.

Kerry also noted that the battle has really just begun in other parts of the world:

So we have come a long way at home, but everybody here knows there’s cloud hanging over this journey right now.  We have a long, long way to go in the world.  I won’t go into the details of a couple of conversations I’ve had with presidents of countries trying to move them on their current laws.  From Uganda to Russia to Iran, LGBT communities face discriminatory laws and practices that attack dignity, undermine safety, and violate human rights.  And we each have a responsibility to push back against a global trend of rising violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.  Maybe all the success we’ve had here, we sort of felt, oh, gosh, it’s got to be happening everywhere else.  But it hasn’t been.  It’ll come.  It’s going to take a while, and it’s going to take courage and patience, stamina in order to continue the fight.

Kerry ended his speech on this note:

We’re here today to send a message:  No matter where you are, no matter who you love, we stand with you.  And that’s what pride means, and that’s what drives us today.  The journey isn’t complete, the march isn’t over, the promise isn’t perfected.  But we will march on together.

Watch and read the full transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Secretary of State John Kerry Speaks at LGBT Pride Event at State Department: VIDEO" »


Friday Speed Read: Family Leave, Uganda, David Cicilline, John Kerry, Presbyterian Church, Gaydar

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LaborOBAMA MOVES ON FAMILY LEAVE:

The Department of Labor will announce this morning that it will propose regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act to clarify that an employee is eligible for FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the employee lives in a state that does not recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

U.S. PENALIZES UGANDA:

MuseveniA spokesperson for the National Security Council announced Thursday that the U.S. is taking action in response to the Ugandan government’s enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act. The statement from press spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. would deny entry to the United States by “certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals.” It said the U.S. would also discontinue or “redirect” funding for the Ugandan police, health ministry, and public health institute. A separate White House blog statement identified $5.4 million in discontinued or redirected funding but said the Obama administration would not identify which individuals would be barred from the U.S.

CICILLINE INTROS BILL: Cicilline

Openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RIs) introduced a bill Thursday to bar from the U.S. any foreigner who has “committed or incited gross violations” of human rights of LGBT people. Four of the seven openly gay members of the House signed on as co-sponsors: Reps. Jared Polis, Sean Maloney, Mark Pocan, and Mark Takano.

NOT JUST ANOTHER SPEECH: Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty Thursday in delivering remarks to a Pride event of the in-house group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA). Kerry spoke at length and answered some tough questions. He lavished praise on GLIFFA President Robyn McCutcheon, most recently a foreign service officer in Bucharest. In the Q&A, two GLIFFA members noted that they’ve seen resistance by many countries to issuing a visa to their same-sex spouse. “This is a serious obstacle that is hurting us in our careers and hurting our families,” said one member. Kerry said he has instructed U.S. embassies “to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy….And where they don’t…at some point in time, we may have to begin to make it clear to them that that can affect one program or another or the choices that we make. It’s not going to be a normal relationship.”

PRESBYTERIANS VOTE ‘YES’: Presbyterian

The governing body of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA voted 371 to 238 Thursday to allow their clergy to conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, also voted 429 to 175 to amend its governing constitution to define marriage as a “unique commitment between two people.” The constitutional change requires ratification by regional presbyteries. The clergy-ceremony vote takes effect Saturday.

WHEN STRAIGHT PEOPLE TRY TO OPERATE GAYDAR: Eric_cantor

Here’s what former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said to a National Journal reporter when asked for his reaction to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary loss: “…men in the South, they are a little effeminate….They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting." Schweitzer later apologized for his “stupid and insensitive remarks.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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