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Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) Wins Re-Election

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Out gay Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) has won re-election, defeating Republican Peter Theron to keep his Madison-area House seat.

With 73.3% reporting, Pocan led Theron with 68.3% to 31.7%.


Wisconsin Attorney General to Appeal Seventh Circuit Gay Marriage Ruling to Supreme Court

VanhollenIn an email sent to the Associated Press, Wisconsin's Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) said he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Seventh Circuit's 3-0 decision overturning his state's gay marriage ban. 

Spokeswoman Dana Brueck said that Van Hollen has always believed the case would be decided by the Supreme Court and that a stay on U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's original ruling would remain in place until all appeals have been exhausted. 

And in other Wisconsin news, openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan issued the following statement yesterday following the Seventh Circuit ruling:

“Today’s decision puts Wisconsin back on track to ensuring full equality for every American,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “It is clear discriminatory laws that treat LGBT couples as second-class citizens will not stand in a court of law.” 
 
“I urge Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to respect the Court’s ruling and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution,” continued Rep. Pocan. “In ruling after ruling, it has become unmistakable that the promise of America is everyone should be treated equally and with dignity. Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to fulfilling that promise.” 


100+ Lawmakers Urge John Kerry to Drop Brunei from Trade Talks Over Anti-Gay Stoning Law

More than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urging the U.S. to tell Brunei to repeal its law that calls for gays to be stoned to death or be expelled from trade talks, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

Pocan"We write to express our concern over the Government of Brunei Darussalam’s recently adopted penal code, which threatens the human rights of minority groups including women, religious minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and urge you to insist that Brunei address these human rights violations as a condition of the United States participating with them in any further Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations," according to the letter drafted by Congressman Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Madison, Wisconsin.

The letter is going to Kerry on Thursday, according to Pocan, who hopes to get more lawmakers signed on before then.

Read the full text of the letter at THR....


Legislation Proposed to Restore Honor to Veterans Discharged from Military for Being Gay

U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI, pictured) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on Wednesday announced legislation that would restore honor to gay and lesbian service members discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation by upgrading their records to reflect honorable service, Pocan's office announced on Wednesday:

PocanThe “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” is about more than upgrading a piece of paper. Every form of discharge previously given out prior to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” carries with it consequences that can follow a service member for his or her entire life. While the character of discharge varied, many members received discharges that were classified as other than honorable or dishonorable, particularly prior to the implementation of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in 1993.  In many states, a dishonorable discharge is treated as a felony, and service members receiving a general discharge, a lesser offense, can encounter grave difficulties acquiring civilian employment. All were barred from reenlisting in the military. Depending on the discharge received, service members may also be blocked from voting, unemployment benefits, participating in the GI Bill or receiving veteran benefits such as health care, VA disability, and ceremonial burial rights at military cemeteries.

The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” turns the current broad review policy outlined in a memo from the Under Secretary of Defense into clear and settled law. It ensures all services members who were previously discharged because of their sexual orientation receive a timely, consistent and transparent review of their records so that gay veterans who served honorably have their records rightfully upgraded to honorable.  It also removes any indication of a service member’s sexual orientation from the record, so they are not automatically “outed” to those accessing their record and protects against future discrimination by decriminalizing consensual relations between same sex couples, bringing military law in line with Supreme Court rulings.

Said Pocan:

“As we celebrate the considerable progress we’ve made toward full equality in our military, we cannot forget about those who continue to suffer because of the discriminatory policies of our past. Our legislation ensures that gay veterans who selflessly served our country no longer live with tarnished records that prohibit them from receiving the recognition, benefits and honors they deserve. By enshrining the implementation of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal into law, our country can finally close this dark chapter of our history and move forward.”


Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan Poised to Become Next Out Gay Congressman Following Primary Win

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Some good news from Wisconsin, the Victory Fund reports:

PocanThe next openly gay member of Congress will almost certainly be Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan, a progressive small business owner who won the Democratic primary tonight in the Congressional District that has been represented by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for the past 14 years.  (The primary winner is normally the heavy favorite to win the general election in the Democratic-leaning 2nd Congressional District.)

Pocan has been active in local and state politics since 1991, and he’s owned a small business in Madison since graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1986.  He married his longtime partner, Philip Frank, in Toronto in 2006.  Pocan currently represents the state legislative district once represented by Baldwin, who is now running for the U.S. Senate after serving seven terms in the House.

(image: victory fund)


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