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Filibuster threat makes ENDA unlikely in 2010

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A small corps of LGBT political insiders, speaking on condition that they not be identified, believe the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is headed for almost certain defeat this year because supporters can’t line up the 60 votes in the Senate needed to overcome a filibuster.

Breaking what some have called an informal code of silence adopted by mainline LGBT political organizations, at least four sources familiar with the gay and transgender civil rights bill said the lack of Senate votes became clear long before Republican Scott Brown won his upset victory last week in Massachusetts.

“What we’re hearing is there is just no clear path to pass ENDA in the Senate,” said one activist familiar with the bill’s lobbying effort. “They don’t think they have 60 votes to pass it.”

Another source with ties to Capitol Hill and national LGBT political groups based in Washington was more definitive.

“ENDA has been off the agenda since before the Massachusetts election because they couldn’t secure the votes in the Senate,” the source told DC Agenda.

The bill would bar private sector employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Opposition to the gender identity provision, included to help protect transgender people, is among the contributing factors that’s prevented supporters from lining up the needed 60 votes to break a filibuster, one of the sources said.

The Human Rights Campaign, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and National Center for Transgender Equality — three leading groups working on ENDA — say they are confident the House of Representatives will pass ENDA in the summer or early fall.

Officials with HRC and NCTE have said they remain hopeful that Democrats and a few moderate Republicans in the Senate will unite to defeat a filibuster and pass the long-awaited LGBT civil rights measure.

“I’m still optimistic,” said veteran transgender activist Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. “The Senate’s always been the harder challenge on every piece of legislation, not just on LGBT legislation. So the Senate’s a challenge; we’ll get there.”

As of this week, the bill had 194 co-sponsors in the House and 44 co-sponsors in the Senate. Only two of the Senate co-sponsors are Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine.

When combined with its lead sponsor in the House, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), and the lead sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the measure has what most observers believe to be at least 195 certain votes in the House and 45 assumed votes in the Senate.

Frank and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a longtime supporter of ENDA, have said they were confident that backers would line up more than the 218 House votes needed to pass the bill.

But in the Senate, LGBT civil rights lobbyists have been reluctant to reveal the findings of their highly confidential head counts, including leanings of the 17 Senate Democrats that have not signed on as co-sponsors. Among them are Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both of Virginia.

A longtime practice in Washington lobbying has been to hold off on publicly disclosing the names of lawmakers who are uncommitted or say they are leaning against a bill, with the hope that they could be persuaded to change their minds. If a lawmaker is pressured to publicly declare his or her position, the lawmaker is less likely to switch positions out of fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, according to seasoned lobbyists and members of Congress.

One of the sources who told DC Agenda that ENDA appears dead in the Senate said that groups like HRC, the Task Force and NCTE are diligently working behind the scenes to line up more Senate Democrats to commit to voting for cloture, the parliamentary procedure used to end a filibuster. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture.

Most political observers believe supporters have the 51 votes to pass the bill in the 100-member Senate, if a filibuster can be broken.

Allison Herwitt, HRC’s legislative director, was circumspect about ENDA’s prospects in the Senate in an interview earlier this month with DC Agenda.

“We have education that we need to do and have conversations,” she said. “I know that Sen. Merkley and his staff have been really on top of this, and having those conversations staff-to-staff — and the senator is having colleague-to-colleague conversations. And we just need to continue some of that process and then see where we are with the vote count.”

Asked whether the gender identity provision could be a problem in the Senate, Herwitt said, “I think what I’m saying is we’re still in the process of figuring all of that out. The conversations are still happening; the education process is still ongoing.” She added that HRC is pushing hard for a “fully inclusive bill.”

Spokespeople for the Task Force, National Stonewall Democrats, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund and the ACLU’s LGBT Rights Project did not return calls this week seeking comment on the reports that ENDA backers may be unable to break a Senate filibuster.

Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said it’s too soon for Reid to assess ENDA’s chances on the Senate floor because the bill has yet to be reported out of committee.

Last November, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. 
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), an ENDA co-sponsor, held a legislative hearing on the bill. At the time of the hearing, Harkin promised to hold a markup hearing on the bill this year, but he did not set a date for the markup.

Markup hearings are required under both House and Senate rules for making final revisions of bills before voting in committee to send them to the floor for a vote by the full House or Senate.

“In the hearing, Sen. Harkin said that he wants to move the bill this year,” said Bergen Kenny, Harkin’s press secretary, in an e-mail this week to DC Agenda. She did not respond to questions about when Harkin would hold the markup or whether he was aware of reports that supporters lacked the votes to break a filibuster.

Julie Edwards, Merkley’s press secretary, pointed to a statement by Harkin at the legislative hearing last November that he would like to see the bill moved to the Senate floor in the spring of 2010.

“I would say that’s the goal,” Edwards said. “That’s what we’re working toward. We continue to reach out to other offices. I know supporters of this legislation are doing the same.”

Asked if Merkley believes he has 60 votes to break a filibuster, Edwards said, “We haven’t done a whip count on this. But we’re continually building support for the bill.”

Although many Capitol Hill observers think the House will pass ENDA sometime this year, Frank raised concerns among some activists earlier this month when he told the Advocate that lawmakers still have problems with the bill’s transgender provision.

“There continues to be concerns on the part of many members about the transgender issue, particularly about the question of places where people are without their clothes — showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.,” the Advocate quoted him as saying.

“We still have this issue about what happens when people who present themselves as one sex but have the physical characteristics of the other sex, what rules govern what happens in locker rooms, showers, etc,” he said.

Frank was out of the country on House business this week and could not be reached. His press secretary, Harry Gural, said Frank’s comments to the Advocate should not be interpreted to mean that the congressman feels the bill is in trouble in the House.

“They don’t expect a holdup on this,” said Gural, who added that no one familiar with the bill believes an attempt will be made to remove the transgender provision.

He was referring to a blowup in 2007, when Frank and House Democratic leaders determined there weren’t enough votes in the House to pass a trans-inclusive version of ENDA. At Frank’s urging, House Democrats introduced and pushed through the full House a revised bill that didn’t include protection for transgender people. The bill died a year later when the Senate failed to act on it following an outcry by many activists urging the Senate not to pass it.

“Barney said that is not going to happen this time,” Gural said.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Donna

    January 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve got an idea. Pass an inclusive ENDA and make the Republicans filibuster it. And pass Health Care Reform and make the Republicans filibuster it. And pass a jobs bill and make the Republicans filibuster it. And pass the end to DOMA and make the Republicans filibuster it. And end DADT and make the Republicans filibuster it. Stop whining about the filibuster bluster and PASS SOMETHING.

  2. Anthony Barreto-Neto

    January 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    This dead horse keeps raising it’s head, Same musings continue concerning tg inclusion in ENDA. HRC still educating on what? How many ways can you say, TG’s are not some strange sub-species related to the GLB community? The same issue we faced in mid 90’s. Frank ‘still’ singing only (potty) song that separates outright discrimination with true issue. We work daily as police off/attyn’s/docs etc & haven’t heard of workers running “enmass” into Sts. of U.S. shouting “What is that in the bathroom?”

  3. Tim

    January 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I’m tired of hiring this garbage about filibusters too. And the idea that the Dems won’t bring it up for a vote because they think it will get filibustered isn’t cutting it. Two of the Republicans in the senate, (Collins & Snowe) from Maine are supporting it, so the only reason it could fail would be a betrayal on the part of some Democrats, like my own senators Webb & Warner who may or may not support it. In any event, I agree that it must come up for a vote, because then we will truly know where they all stand on the issue and can feel free to desert any of the Dems who betray us. As for me and my partner, we won’t work for, give money to, or vote for any Democrat until they pass the Pro-LGBT legislation they promissed us. At the very least they can try and not give us this crap about not wanting to go ahead with it because there might be a filibuster.

  4. BobN

    January 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    If the Dems put it up and it gets voted down or can’t overcome a filibuster, at least we will know to whom to donate our money. If they don’t put it up for a vote, all the GOP operatives who, along with quite a few Dems who do not understand incremental progress, will keep telling gay people not to donate to the Dems or, worse, that the two parties are the same and stupid folks will believe them.

  5. Dan

    January 28, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    There’s no need to fold on this. Congress has several alternatives available. They can add general provisions to ENDA so that a wider range of lawmakers will support it. For example, they can strengthen protections for older people, veterans, or women; they can strengthen the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for all citizens, or add provisions against physical violence. This is why the Hate Crimes Act was successful: provisions for LGBT people, and also for many others. If they really care, they can use reconciliation, or tie ENDA to a budget in the House and Senate.

  6. Samantha

    January 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Don’t they just usually attach 6,000 bills to a war funding bill and then they all pass on a single vote because nobody has the balls to be “unpatriotic” or “soft on terror”? Throw some pork over in this direction.

  7. disappointed

    January 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    The Dems have 59 votes in the Senate and we have 2 supportive GOPers, and yet the EDNA STILL won’t pass?!? Where is the Dem leadership on this? I’m continually disappointed by the Dems.

  8. Joanna Sue

    January 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    It is amazing to me the Democrats put their tail between their legs and run at the sign of a Filibuster by the Republicans. The last time I checked we need only 51 votes to pass a bill not 60. What happen to compromise and politics? The only conclusion I can come to is that they do not want to pass ENDA. They where and still are playing us for fools.

  9. GPP

    January 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I just don’t see why the dems don’t pass ENDA without the provision for the transgender folks for now and then pass an ENDA version covering Gender Identity in the coming years when there’s more support for it. Take what you can get NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just because we pass ENDA without a gender identity provision now doesn’t mean that we will stop fighting to include gender identity as a protected class in the very near future. It is just that the votes in the Senate aren’t there right now in 2010, but might be there at some point in the next 10 years especially as this country gets more educated and more aware of transgendered people.

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here people!!!!!

  10. Anthony Barreto-Neto

    January 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Well GPP it’s thinking like yours that shows just how uninformed & bigoted people are when it comes to trans people. We fought very hard to get in the bill to begin with & our inclusion isn’t stopping it from being passed. That was already tried thanks to out lgb “friends” The same ole “will come back for you” BS is just thst..BS And trans people not only don’t have protection in the job place cuz your kind of thinking just keeps adding to our list of MURDERED trans people so soon won’t be many of us left!

  11. Crash2Parties

    January 29, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Pass ENDA without gender protections and it might as well clearly state, “Discrimination against masculine but gay white men and some women is prohibited. All else are fair game.” Without gender protection lgb’s will still be discriminated against and the reason given will be based on gender expression not sexuality. But the same people will get fired, not rented to, etc..

    Like it or not, all LGBT are transgender. To be a transgender person is to live outside of our society’s expectations of 100% masculine or 100% feminine:

    –Wear the clothes of the opposite gender?
    You are trans.
    –Perform the social role of the opposite gender?
    You are trans.
    –Need the body of the opposite gender?
    You are trans.
    –Love or lust the same sex as the opposite gender?
    You. Are. Trans.

  12. Doctor Whom

    January 30, 2010 at 9:58 am

    “They where and still are playing us for fools.”

    QFT. Democrats are no more committed to LGBT issues than Republicans are to smaller government. Both major parties are mystery cults; what they say to the masses and what they say among themselves are dramatically different.

  13. GPP

    January 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Actually Anthony Barreto-Neto it does sound like the inclusion of the Gender Identity language is EXACTLY what is preventing otherwise supportive democratic senators from joining in support of ENDA this year. For your information, I am not a bigot. I would like to see gender identity as a a protected status in law, but the votes just aren’t there in the U.S. Senate here in 2010, but they might be at some point in the next 10 years.

    Oh, and by the way, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE BEING KILLED. You’re not going to win any allies by insulting people with differing opinions as to how to go about achieving the SAME OBJECTIVES.

    I want to see gender identity covered in anti-discrimination employment laws as much as you do Anthony Barreto-Neto. But unlike you, I also want to see Sexual Orientation covered in anti-discrimination employment laws as soon as possible as well.

  14. Cicada

    January 31, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    GPP is right. Because public understanding of transgender people lags behind public understanding of gay people, the transgender provisions–especially the restroom rules–are what is, unfortunately, rendering the bill unpassable in the Senate. None of this should be surprising. The problem has been the same in trying to enact gender-identity bills in several states lately. The political reality is that there aren’t 60 votes for the inclusive bill. The question is whether to pass the gay-only version or delay passage for, probably, years, if not a decade or more, because the Democrats won’t have this many seats in the Senate again for a while, and no one knows who will be in the White House to sign or veto a bill after 2012. This has always been the uncomfortable choice that our “leaders” have tried to pretend doesn’t exist.

  15. libhomo

    February 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I can’t believe there are lgb people dumb enough to support a version of ENDA without gender identity provisions. It’s a legal loophole that corporate lawyers will exploit mercilessly. ENDA without gender identity protections is a total fake and a scam.

  16. Sam Brown

    February 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Let’s pass what we can now.

    In most polls, over 80% of the American people support non-discrimination in employment and housing. Interestingly, many of the less politically-informed straight people I have met (in states without any laws protecting us) already thought such discrimination was illegal and were shocked to know that one could still be fired just for being gay in this country.

    Anything that reduces discrimination helps us all, even those not covered. Each time someone else comes out of the closet, more people are educated. It is easy to hate abstract groups but hard to hate people you already know and see everyday. Having a law also set the tone for other situations and helps make discrimination socially unacceptable.

    So find the compromises. Exempt religious organizations broadly if needed, or owner-operated businesses with fewer than 5 employees, or landlords living in their buildings — just get it done! If 90% of us are protected that is a BIG step forward from 0%.

    Let’s not the rights of 4% to 8% of the American population hostage to the 0.001% who want to argue about which restroom to use.

  17. erleclaire

    February 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

    No doubt the liability that the Transgender present is part of the battle. I see friction from the medical community, insurance companies, Dept of Defense over decades of denial, and mostly religious bigotry. It is all about votes and money. We are not a valid entity into both re-election votes, or Wall Street revenue…. We are simply a liability. A liability to the LGB(t) community as well.

  18. planetspinz

    March 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    So let me try to understand this stupidity – people who are transgender should not be given the opportunity to work because some str8s don’t want to go to the bathroom with them? I suppose in some heteroidiotic way this would make sense in heterosupremacy land, but in the real world everyone has the right to earn a living without fear. These heteros have obviously gone completely potty.

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‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age

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Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS to be held virtually Dec. 2-3

Fauci, Levine, Pelosi to speak at opening session

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Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health, is among speakers at this week’s U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health who became the nation’s highest-ranking transgender public official earlier this year, are among dozens of experts scheduled to participate in the 25th Annual U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS scheduled to take place virtually Dec. 2-3.

Fauci and Levine were scheduled to join Harold Phillips, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as speakers at the conference’s opening plenary session at noon on Thursday, Dec. 2. 

Phillips and Levine were expected to provide information about President Joe Biden’s plans for updating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which Biden was scheduled to announce on Dec. 1 at a White House World AIDS Day event.

Members of the U.S. People Living With HIV Caucus were also expected to discuss the federal policy agenda on HIV/AIDS at the opening plenary session. 

In addition to the opening plenary and three other plenary sessions, one more on Thursday, Dec. 2, and two on Friday, Dec. 3, the conference was scheduled to include 140 workshop sessions on a wide variety of HIV/AIDS related topics.

The annual United States Conference on HIV/AIDS is organized by the D.C.-based national HIV/AIDS advocacy organization NMAC, which was formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council before it changed its name to that of its widely known initials NMAC. 

“NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America,” the organization states on its website. “Health equity with communities of color is everyone’s challenge.”

Several of the workshop sessions cover the topic of expanding the local, state, and national efforts of using pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs known as PrEP as a means of preventing HIV infection. 

Other workshop sessions include: HIV CURE – Hot Topics in HIV Cure Research; A Town Hall on Aging and HIV; COVID, HIV, and Racism – How Providers Can Make a Difference; Expanding the Pleasure and HIV Prevention Toolkit: Kink As Harm Reduction; It’s About Time – HIV Research Just For Transgender Women; and Impact of COVID-19 on HIV Prevention Services Among U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Funded Community Based Organizations.

The conference’s fourth and closing plenary session, Foundation Stones to Building the EHE Effort in Indian County, “will highlight the work of those addressing HIV and COVID in Indian Country, rural states and among Alaska Natives with limited infrastructure,” according to a conference agenda statement. 

“This plenary addresses these challenges and provides innovative solutions by the Indian Country – making the case to support Native HIV care by providing essential building blocks,” the agenda statement says. 

Paul Kawata, NMAC’s executive director, says in a statement in the conference’s agenda booklet that he and his NMAC team are disappointed that the 2021 conference is being held virtually for the second year in a row.

“But we felt the issue of safety was simply too critical to ignore,” Kawata said in his statement. “I’ve been very concerned about our loved ones over 50 living with HIV through the whole COVID pandemic,” he said, noting that people in that category were dealing with isolation as well as a higher risk for COVID.

“I hope this conference, even though it is virtual, will help alleviate some of that isolation,” Kawata said. “We’ve worked very hard to make this conference not just an opportunity for training and education, but a chance to connect with others, reinforce those strands in your support net, and hopefully, establish some new connections.”

More information about the U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS and instructions on registering to attend can be obtained at nmac.org.

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N.C. lieutenant governor compares gays to cow feces, maggots

“If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said

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North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (Blade file photo)

WINSTON-SALEM – Speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 14, North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson attacked the LGBTQ+ community in remarks caught on the church’s livestreaming video on YouTube.

Robinson said in his sermon that he questioned the “purpose” of being gay; said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples; and that he didn’t want to explain to his grandchildren why two men are kissing if they see that on television the Charlotte Observer reported.

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.

Democratic lawmakers expressed their outrage on Twitter:

According to the Observer, “The video was distributed Friday by a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, the day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance. A protest rally was held Friday in front of Robinson’s office, but organizers also read the names of transgender people who have been killed.

This man’s theology and religious practices are not only flawed and a perversion of the Christian tenets; he places countless people at risk of violent attacks and even murder every time he opens his mouth,” said Vance Haywood, senior pastor at St. John’s, in a statement.

Robinson is expected to run for the governor’s chair in 2024. In another video of the sermon captured the Lt. Governor ranting in transphobic terms his opinion of the Trans community:

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (Twitter Video)

Video of remarks made by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

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