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.
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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.
Categories: internet, Politics FCC, gay experts, gay travel, Government, internet, net neutrality, obama, Politics, the web, wheeler
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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, 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 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.
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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.
Categories: Judge, texas gay, gay texas, judge, LGBT texas, obama, Robert Pitman, San Antonio, Senate, ted cruz, texas, the south
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This afternoon, the Department of Labor published a new rule to prohibit businesses that contract with the federal government from engaging in workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The rule implements the historic LGBT non-discrimination executive order that was signed by President Obama in July. The rule will appear in the Federal Register on Thursday and will take effect 120 days later. “The publication of this rule is another landmark moment in the ongoing fight for workplace dignity and fairness for LGBT Americans. These critical, long overdue protections – covering approximately 20 percent of the entire labor force – build on a bipartisan tradition dating back over 70 years of prohibiting taxpayer-funded discrimination,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office said.
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Gay-rights and human-rights organizations worldwide are condemning the decision by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to sign into law horrific new legislation that could lead to life in prison for some LGBT people in The Gambia. HRC and other organizations are calling on the Obama Administration to conduct a full diplomatic review of the United States’ relationship with Gambia.
According to a new Associated Press report, Jammeh actually signed the bill into law on October 9, although “no government officials have yet publicly notified the country of the new law.” According to multiple news reports, earlier this year The Gambia’s National Assembly passed the legislation that includes nearly identical language to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, and the bill has since awaited the signature of Jammeh, who has a deeply troubling record on LGBT rights.
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Exxon Mobil Corp. has had a rocky history with the LGBT community, ever since it was named one of the only top Fortune 500 companies without offering protections for its LGBT employees. But now, thanks to the Executive Order signed by President Obama requiring federally contracted companies to protect LGBT employees, Exxon said it would comply. With over $480 million in federal contracts just last year, the company will not know exactly how to comply by the order until the Labor Department releases its guidelines in the coming weeks. Just this May, Exxon shareholders voted down a measure to change the wording of the company’s equal employment opportunity policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. [AP]
Categories: discrimination, exxon, Obama big business, discrimination, exxon, gay, gay rights, hrc, LGBT protections, Mobil, obama, oil
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Today, President Barack Obama signed an executive order outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and federal employees. “With the strokes of a pen, the President will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country. Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are – like their sexual orientation or gender identity,” HRC President Chad Griffith said in a statement. “These actions from the President have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration’s progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-LGBT discrimination must not be tolerated. We also call on Congress to immediately pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” he added.
Categories: executive order, HRC, Obama, workplace discrimination discrimination, executive order, gay workers, Gay workplace, hrc, lgbt, obama, workplace