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04/19/2007


Good News For Tammy Baldwin Supporters

BaldwinTammy Russ Feingold told supporters that he will not run for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Herb Kohl.

"While I may seek elective office again someday, I have decided not to run for public office during 2012," Feingold wrote in an email sent out this morning.

This is great news for voters who support openly gay Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's potential Senate bid.

As Public Policy Polling reported this week, Feingold's move puts Baldwin at the top of the Democratic ticket in the Badger State: "If Feingold sits it out Tammy Baldwin is looking like the early favorite. In a three way race with Ron Kind and Steve Kagen she leads with 37% to 21% for Kind and 15% for Kagen. And in just a two way race with Kagen she leads 48-19."

So, who thinks Baldwin will -- or should -- run for Senate?


Watch: NOM Attacks 14 Heroes Who Voted Against DOMA in 1996

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One Man, One Woman, a NOM affiliate, looks back to 1996 in a new ad attacking Senators Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold, and their votes against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: NOM Attacks 14 Heroes Who Voted Against DOMA in 1996" »


Uganda 'Kill the Gays' Bill Will Include Death Penalty Provision;
Obama, Grassley, Coburn, Feingold, Vatican Speak Out

An article appearing in The Guardian over the weekend reports that the death penalty and life imprisonment provisions in Uganda's "kill the gays" bill as it has come to be known, have not been dropped, as Bloomberg reported last week.

Bahatie The Guardian spoke with the bill's main sponsor, David Bahati: "Bahati has just presented his anti-homosexuality bill 2009 to Uganda's parliament. The bill, which will be debated within a fortnight and is expected to become law by February, will allow homosexuality to be punishable by death...He denied reports that international pressure might result in parts of the bill being toned down. 'We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.'"

The White House finally took a public stand on the "kill the gays" bill, late on Friday afternoon and only after prodding from The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld.

Said the statement: "The president strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history."

Grassley Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, under pressure from groups like One Iowa, which began a petition urging the legislator to speak out, finally spoke out in a statement to the Iowa Independent.

Said Grassley: "Based on what I’ve been able to learn about the legislation and from the stand point that I’m a born again Christian, I can tell you that I don’t agree with this un-Christian and unjust  proposal, and I hope the Ugandan officials dismiss it."

GOP Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has spoken out as well: “Over the past two decades, political, religious, and community leaders in Uganda have united to promote a rare, winning strategy against HIV that addresses the unique and common risks of every segment of society. Sadly, some who oppose Uganda’s common sense ABC strategy are using an absurd proposal to execute gays to undermine this coalition and winning strategy. Officials in Uganda should come to their senses and take whatever steps are necessary to withdraw this proposal that will do nothing but harm a winning strategy that is saving lives.”

Feingold And Wisconsin Senator and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Russ Feingold released a statement.

Said Feingold: "I share the outrage of many political, religious and civic leaders in Uganda and around the world about the “anti-homosexuality bill” before the Ugandan Parliament.  If enacted, this inhumane bill would sanction new levels of violence against people in Uganda based solely on their gender or sexual orientation.  Its passage would hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Over the last month, I have conveyed these concerns to the State Department and directly to President Museveni, and I urge Uganda’s leaders to reject this bill."

Ugandamap Finally, The Vatican released a curiously timed statement which did not mention Uganda directly but appears to address the situation there:

"As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person. As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth."


Tammy Baldwin Asks Hillary Clinton to Fix Inequities at State Dept

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Rep. Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today requesting specific inequities for gay State Department employees to be remedied, the Victory Fund reports. Said the letter:

Baldwin"The lack of equitable treatment could force dedicated, intelligent, and needed FSOs (Foreign Service Officers) and officials to make an unfortunate choice between serving their country and protecting their families. As you noted during the question and answer session of your Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing, many other nations now extend training, protection, and benefits to the partners of LGBT employees. Further, the State Department’s past inattention to these disparities places it below parity with the best employment practices used in the private sector, where the majority of Fortune 500 companies extend employee benefit programs to cover the domestic partners. Without remedying these inequities, the State Department may fail to attract and retain qualified personnel."

The requests included:

– Inclusion in travel orders for same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs)
– Access to training, including all language classes, area studies, and embassy effectiveness classes for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Emergency evacuation and medevac from post when necessary for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Access to post health units for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Visa support for same-sex domestic partners accompanying FSOs to overseas postings, and for same-sex foreign-born domestic partners accompanying FSOs to postings in Washington or elsewhere in the U.S.

The letter was also signed by Senators Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

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On Friday, Clinton met Michelle Schohn, president of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, in a meeting with other affinity groups at the agency. Schohn said that Clinton confirmed receipt of a letter from GLIFAA and reiterated a promise to review policies with regard to gay staffers. Said Schohn: "It was an overwhelmingly positive meeting. There wasn’t a lot of time to talk with her because she was meeting with all the affinity groups, so we each got a tiny chunk of time to be able to say something to her."

Clinton was sworn in today and roasted Bill Clinton, saying: "I am so grateful to him for, a lifetime of, uh...all kinds of experiences...which has given me an extraordinary richness that I am absolutely beholden to and grateful for.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Tammy Baldwin Asks Hillary Clinton to Fix Inequities at State Dept" »


Hillary Clinton Addresses Issue of LGBT Personnel at State Department

At yesterday's Secretary of State confirmation hearings, Senator Russ Feingold asked Hillary Clinton about difficulties faced by LGBT employees at the State Department.

HillaryFEINGOLD: So I look forward to working with you. Let me switch to something completely different. There's widespread recognition of the need to build a more robust and effective diplomatic and development corps. And as a part of that effort, it, of course, makes sense to consider ways to address challenges faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, particularly relating to domestic partner benefits and State Department policies that make it difficult for the partners of foreign service officers to travel and live at overseas posts. What would you do as secretary of state to address these concerns? Will you support changes to existing personnel policy in order to ensure that LGBT staff at State and USAID receive equal benefits and support?

CLINTON: Senator, this issue was brought to my attention during the transition. I've asked to have more briefing on it because I think that we should take a hard look at the existing policy. As I understand it, but don't hold me to it because I don't have the full briefing material, but my understanding is other nations have moved to extend that partnership benefit. And we will come back to you to inform you of decisions we make going forward.

Michaelguest_2Issues of inequality and unfair treatment at the State Department were highlighted last year when departing Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest criticized the agency's failure to deal with them. Guest took a parting shot at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his retirement ceremony for failing to answer his calls to address LGBT issues. Said Guest: "This was my last chance. I never got a response. I don't know that I expected a response. What I wanted was attention to the issue....One word from the secretary [would have spurred action]. That's what I was hoping, that I would somehow get to her heart."

Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) was pleased with the Feingold-Clinton exchange, and released the following statement:

"GLIFAA plans to present to the incoming Secretary of State a letter signed by over 2,000 current and former employees of the Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, requesting fairness for LBGT employees. GLIFAA board members also met with members of President-elect Obama's transition team at the Department of State in December. GLIFAA President Michelle Schohn welcomed Senator Clinton's acknowledgement that fairer policies serve as good business sense. Schohn noted that LGBT U.S. diplomats and aid workers serve overseas in some of the most dangerous locations, but continue to be denied equal treatment for their families. She expressed hope that the incoming Administration would work quickly to implement overdue reforms...Among many other obstacles, LGBT partners lack access to affordable health insurance coverage and resources for moving abroad. During overseas tours, employees' partners do not receive assistance in obtaining a visa and lack access to employment opportunities, emergency evacuation, and embassy medical units, all afforded to married, heterosexual couples."

Earlier
Hillary Clinton Looks Headed for Swift Secretary of State Approval [tr]


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