April 29, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
National news in brief

Several local religious leaders spearheaded a vigil Tuesday in D.C. to support LGBT people in Uganda. Lawmakers in the African nation are considering an anti-gay bill that could make homosexuality punishable by imprisonment or death. About 20 people attended the vigil at National City Christian Church. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Pa. lawmaker: Opponent lying about bisexuality

PHILADELPHIA — A lawmaker seeking re-election to the Pennsylvania House reportedly said during a recent fundraiser that her opponent in a Democratic primary is lying about being bisexual to pander to LGBT voters.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, state Rep. Babette Josephs told attendees at a Philadelphia fundraiser April 15 that her primary opponent, Gregg Kravitz, is lying “about a whole bunch of stuff, including his sexuality.”

“I outed him as a straight person,” Josephs was quoted as saying. “Now he goes around telling people, quote, ‘I swing both ways.’ That’s quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy’s a gem.”

In response, Kravitz said he’s sexually attracted to men and women and found Josephs’ remarks offensive, according to the Inquirer.

“That kind of taunting is going to make it more difficult for closeted members of the LGBT community to be comfortable with themselves,” Kravitz said. “It’s damaging.”

Josephs also reportedly called Kravitz a “trust-fund baby” who had no discernible job history and was running for a seat because he was bored.

Known as a supporter of LGBT people, Josephs is endorsed by the Liberty City Democrats, an LGBT group in Philadelphia, and has worked to block passage of a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and to add sexual orientation to the state’s hate-crimes statute, according to the Inquirer.

CHRIS JOHNSON

443 troops discharged last year under ‘Don’t Ask’

WASHINGTON — Data made public last week brings the total reported number of service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in fiscal year 2009 to 443, according to Servicemembers United.

The figure became known April 22 by combining the discharge numbers from the Defense Department, 428, with the discharge numbers for the Department of Homeland Security for the Coast Guard, 15.

The new numbers bring the total number of discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since its inception in 1993 to 13,425.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the numbers continue the trend of record annual lows for discharged service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as commanders “continue to ignore this law that is clearly outdated and which impairs their unit readiness.”

“But this new number still means that 443 lives were unnecessarily turned upside down in 2009, 443 careers were unfairly terminated, and military units unexpectedly lost a valuable asset 443 times last year as two wars raged,” Nicholson said.

According to Servicemembers United, the actual number of discharges is probably higher because the reported numbers don’t reflect service members expelled from the Reserve or the National Guard.

“The Reserves and the National Guard have been especially active since Sept. 11, 2001, and their numbers have swelled, so it is highly probably that the discharge numbers from these two additional activities are significant,” Nicholson said.

CHRIS JOHNSON

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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