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Posts Tagged ‘obama’

White House Hires First Openly Transgender Staff Member

August 18th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

The White House as confirmed the appointment of Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first openly transgender person to work at the White House. Freedman-Gurspan has been appointed the Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. The Honduran-born official grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and formerly worked as a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s racial and economic justice initiative. Freedman-Gurspan had also made history in Massachusetts as the first transgender woman working at the Massachusetts State House/

Obama Presses African Youth Leaders to Back Gay Rights

August 5th, 2015 Comments off
Photo via Passport Magazine

Photo via Passport Magazine

On Monday, President Obama echoed remarks made in favor of gay rights during a recent trip to Africa while addressing a group of young African leaders, equating racial discrimination to anti-gay discrimination.

The issue of prejudice was introduced in reply to a question regarding the issue of ritualistic albino sacrifices in Africa, as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative’s three-day summit, held in our nation’s capital.

Obama said he considered the racialized violence to be “tomfoolery,” calling for its immediate resolution.

“The same, by the way, is true for sexual orientation,” Obama went on. “I spoke about this in Africa, and everybody is like, oh, oh, we don’t want to hear that. But the truth of the matter is, is that if you’re treating people differently just because of who they love and who they are, then there’s a connection between that mindset and the mindset that led to racism, and the mindset that leads to ethnic conflict. It means that you’re not able to see somebody else as a human being.”

Keep reading after the jump…

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5,000 Kenyans to Protest Homosexuality by Stripping Naked

July 17th, 2015 Comments off
via Passport Magazine.

via Passport Magazine.

It seems Obama’s upcoming visit to Kenya may include more nudity than was initially planned.

Led by 33-year-old Vincent Kidaha, the Republican Liberty Party will protest “Obama’s open and aggressive support of homosexuality” by having 1000 women and 4000 men strip naked in order to literally demonstrate the difference between males and females on July 22nd and 23rd this year.

This may seem like a fairly comical way to protest – especially considering the 4:1 male to female ratio – but the anti-gay laws in Africa are no laughing matter.

While homosexuality is already illegal in Kenya, there are political movements calling for stricter enforcement of such policies. As reported by Towleroad, in August 2014, the Republican Liberty Party brought an Anti-Homosexuality Bill to Parliament, suggesting that anyone found guilty of homosexuality or sodomy would be punished with a life sentence in jail. There is an even more severe policy for arrested gay foreigners, in which case “the sentence shall be subjected to death by stoning in public.”

While this may sound far-fetched to a Western audience, similar laws have already passed in Uganda and Nigeria, and so the passage of such a law could only mean bad things for the already stifled Kenyan LGBT community.

Confirmed! Married Gay Couples Will Receive Full Federal Benefits

July 9th, 2015 Comments off
Gay Marriage

Image via Passport

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch confirmed that married same-sex couples will finally have access to full federal benefits thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision affirming a Constitutional right to nationwide marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. Now that marriage equality is the law of the land in every state, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration – which before the decision had continued to deny full benefits due to statutory language forcing them to look to the state of residence for the purpose of some benefits – will finally extend full benefits to married same-sex couples. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization praised the long awaited announcement. [HRC]

Gambian President to Gay Men: ‘I Will Slit Your Throat,’ The US Must Do More to End Violent Anti-Gay Rhetoric by Gambian Leaders

May 15th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Facebook

President of Gambia. Image via Facebook

Today, gay rights groups are urging the Obama Administration to take additional action against Gambian leaders as the regime continues to persecute LGBT citizens, calling on the White House to condemn the horrific human rights abuses taking place across The Gambia. At a political rally earlier this month, President Jammeh threatened to slit the throats of men who wanted to marry other men in his country. This type of rhetoric is not uncommon in The Gambia, contributing to an already severe epidemic of homophobic violence in the country.

In their letter to Susan Rice, HRC President Chad Griffin and RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy wrote:  “As the human rights situation in The Gambia grows more dire, we strongly urge you to consider the steps we have recommended in order to protect the country’s highly vulnerable and already marginalized groups, including LGBT people, who undoubtedly remain under serious threat.”  The letter calls on the White House to release a statement condemning the oppression of marginalized groups in The Gambia and bar President Jammeh and his associates from entry into the United States.


Net Neutrality: FCC Chairman Vows to Keep the Internet Free and Open

February 26th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

Despite some hurdles from Republicans, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, announced today that that the FCC voted in support of net neutrality—supporting President Obama’s demand that Internet providers not charge for faster speeds. According to the NYTimes:

The proposed rule change would reclassify broadband Internet services under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, giving the FCC the authority to enforce rules preventing Internet providers from providing favorable treatment—such as faster speeds—to companies in exchange for money. In other words, Netflix or Hulu can’t pay to have their video delivered more quickly than a competing but smaller company. Perhaps more importantly, these rules also apply to mobile broadband, meaning that cell phone companies can’t decide to throttle or block data coming from certain services. The hope is to give all Internet companies, regardless of the size of their wallets, a fair shake at competing, and make sure that consumers have access to the content they want, without interference from providers.

President Obama Supports the Inclusion of Transgender Military Personnel

February 24th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

A press briefing today at the White House has confirmed that President Obama believes that transgender soldiers should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Secretary Carter said at an event in Kandahar: “And I’m very open-minded about…what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria. Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.”

See a transcription of today’s press briefing in which a reporter asks about Carter’s comments.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  During a military town hall event yesterday in Kandahar, Secretary Carter expressed an openness to the idea of openly transgender service, saying only suitability for service should bar an American from enlistment.  Does the President share Secretary Carter’s views on this?

MR. EARNEST:  Chris, I’ve seen the reports of Secretary Carter’s comments.  I can tell you that the President agrees with the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve.  And for that reason we here at the White House welcome the comments from the Secretary of Defense.

But in terms of additional steps the Department of Defense will take to address this matter, I’d refer you to the Secretary’s office.

Q    Is there any coordination going on between the White House and the Pentagon right now to coordinate those steps?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, to talk about what those next steps might be, I’d refer you to the Department of Defense.

Randy W. Berry Selected to Head First-Ever State Department’s LGBT Human Rights Envoy

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Randy W. Berry, a veteran senior US Foreign Service Officer, has been selected as the State Department’s first ever LGBT Human Rights Envoy. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry created this new senior-level position to oversee the United States government’s efforts to support the human rights of LGBT people around the world. “At a moment when many LGBT people around the world are facing persecution and daily violence, this unprecedented appointment shows a historic commitment to the principle that LGBT rights are human rights,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown tremendous leadership in championing the rights of LGBT people abroad. Now, working closely with this new envoy, we’ve got to work harder than ever to create new allies, push back on human rights violators, and support the brave leaders and organizations that fight for LGBT rights around the world.”

Berry’s career with the State Department has taken him to postings in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda (twice), and South Africa, as well as Washington DC. Mr. Berry holds a State Department Superior Honor Award, and is a nine-time Meritorious Honor Award recipient.

Obama Plans to Help All Gay Married Couples to Receive Full Social Security Protections

February 3rd, 2015 Comments off
Obama Speaking. Screen Shot via YouTube.

Obama Speaking. Screen Shot via YouTube.

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal includes a change to the Social Security Act that would allow legally married same-sex couples to receive the full array of protections even if they live in one of the 14 states that doesn’t respect their marriage.

Currently, same-sex couples who are legally married but live in one of the 14 states that do not respect their marriage are ineligible for Social Security survivor benefits.  This can mean a significant drop in benefits after the death of a spouse, a hardship that non-gay married couples do not face. This includes widow Arlene Goldberg, who lives in Florida and was forced from her home after the death of her spouse. Goldberg was featured in a national TV ad by Freedom to Marry last year.

Yeehaw! Texas Gets its First Openly Gay Federal Judge

December 17th, 2014 Comments off
Image via USDOJ

Image via USDOJ

Last night the Senate confirmed three judges in Texas—positions that have remained vacant for years—and among the chosen is the state’s first openly gay judge. The fact that US Attorney Robert Pittman of San Antonio is a non-issue when looking at his prestigious resume. He worked as the top federal prosecutor for the Western Distric of Texas and was a federal magistrate, according to Dallas News. He will fill a position that has remained vacant since 2008.