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Pelosi: 'Don't Ask' compromise 'respectful' of review

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she thinks the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise is “respectful” of the Pentagon review process underway while at the same time providing a path where gay, lesbian, bisexual service members can serve openly in the U.S. military.

In a response to a reporter’s question during her weekly press conference, Pelosi quoted congressional testimony from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen in which he said repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is “the right thing to do.” Pelosi said she shares that belief.

She added the compromise legislation unveiled earlier this week, which wouldn’t end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute until after the Pentagon study is complete at the end of the year, was a compromise “worked out with the White House.”

“It doesn’t repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” she said. “It defers to when that report comes forth and then we repeal it.”

The amendment to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” introduced by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), is poised to come to the House floor this week when lawmakers take up the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

The repeal measure, Pelosi said, is “respectful” of the Pentagon working group, which she said is “speaking at all levels of the military across the country in anticipation of how we should move forward.”

“This is about national security and morale of our troops, unit cohesion, all of those things,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi added she thinks she has support for a successful vote, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether she was referring to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” amendment or the defense budget legislation as a whole.

The transcript of the exchange follows:

Q: On repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” are you satisfied with the compromise that was developed with the White House about this and a lot of the members … are saying this could be a very tough vote for them in vulnerable conservative districts. There’s a possibility of Ike Skelton even not supporting final passage of this bill if this repeal amendment is in there.

Do you have the votes? Do you worry about making your members taking another tough vote this election year?

Pelosi: I want to just quote Adm. Mullen because I was so inspired by his remarks: “Allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military is the right thing to do. We have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, personally, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals, ours as an institution.”

It is the right thing to do. And the legislation — the compromise that was worked out with the White House is respectful of the fact that there is a review going on speaking at all levels to the military across the country in anticipation about how we should move forward. … This is about national security and morale of our troops, unit cohesion, all of those things.

This amendment today is respectful of that. It doesn’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It defers to when that report comes forth and then we repeal it.

Q: Do you have the votes?

Pelosi: Oh, I think the voters are there.

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Politics

Tuberville promotes anti-transgender sports ban at CPAC

Senator’s bill introduced Feb. 1

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U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) speaks at CPAC 2024 (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – During an interview with right-wing talk show host Ben Ferguson at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) promoted a bill he introduced on Feb. 1, the Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

The legislation, which Tuberville acknowledged would not be brought to the Senate floor so long as Democrats have a majority in the chamber, would “prohibit any governing body recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee” from allowing transgender women to participate “in any athletic event intended for females.”

The senator accused the Democrats, “the socialist party” of “dividing the family” by “trying to bring gender together, because they think men can have babies now.”

Tuberville expressed frustration with Republican Senate colleagues who did not agree with his sports bill, recounting how he had asked some of them, “don’t you have a daughter?”

“Now they want to tear down sports,” he said, warning that opening women’s and girls’ teams to trans women and girls will result in injury.

Tuberville and Ferguson criticized a new policy adopted by USA Boxing in January, which they found insufficiently restrictive.

The organization’s new rules stipulate that minors “must compete as their birth gender” and in weight classes specified in the rulebook — but allows trans women older than 18 to compete in the female category if they have undergone genital reassignment surgery and agree to quarterly hormone tests for four years.

More transphobia from GOP’s leading candidate for N.C. governor

Taking the stage after Tuberville and Ferguson was North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the Republican frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial primary, who also spoke out against allowing trans women and girls to compete in athletics and proclaimed “men oughta go in their own bathroom, not the women’s bathroom.”

Robinson objected to press coverage of his anti-trans remarks during a campaign speech this month in which he said, “we’re going to defend women in this state,” which means “if you’re a man on Friday night and all of the sudden on Saturday, you feel like a woman and you want to go in the women’s bathroom in the mall, you will be arrested — or whatever we got to do to you.”

At a different rally, Robinson said those who “are confused” about their gender should “find a corner outside somewhere to go” to the bathroom.

Robinson accused “the leftist news media” of cherry-picking these statements in their coverage rather than his remarks about other subjects. “Whenever they mention my name, they mention it in connection with social issues,” he said. “According to them, I hate everybody.”

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Congress

Marjorie Taylor Greene targets Rachel Levine with transphobic insults

Ga. Republican has long history of attacking health official

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In an X post on Feb. 17, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) lobbed transphobic insults at Adm. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the highest ranking transgender government official.

The congresswoman was responding to a video posted by Levine on X, which highlighted the disproportionate harms wrought by climate change on “the physical and mental health of Black communities” along with HHS’s work addressing these issues.

“Here is a man pretending to be a woman claiming the climate is hurting Black Americans more than others” Greene wrote in her post. “This is the Democrat Party. Mental illness on full display.”

The congresswoman has repeatedly targeted Levine, largely over her support for gender-affirming care — medically necessary, evidence-based interventions that are governed by clinical practice guidelines and endorsed by every mainstream scientific and medical society in the world.

Greene’s post on Feb. 17 was not the first time she crossed the line into rank anti-LGBTQ bigotry, however.

Speaking from the House floor in November, Greene misgendered and dead-named the health official while introducing an amendment to “reduce — no, castrate” her government salary to $1.

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Politics

Documents show plans for ‘Christian nationalism’ if Trump wins a second term

Close allies of the former president propose an extreme right-wing agenda

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Former President Donald Trump (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

New documents show that close allies of former President Donald Trump who would likely serve in senior White House roles if he is reelected would make Christian nationalism a guiding principle of governance and public policy in a second term.

Politico reported on Tuesday that it had reviewed a list of priorities for a second Trump administration that was prepared by a right-wing think tank called the Center for Renewing America and included “Christian nationalism.”

In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson at the organization disputed the accuracy of the reporting.

CRA is led by Russell Vought, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget in the first Trump administration and is considered a top candidate for the chief-of-staff job if he returns to the White House.

The bulleted list also featured examples of ways in which Trump would consolidate and exercise the powers of the presidency in a maximalist fashion, including by using the military to quash protests and by refusing to spend congressionally appropriated funds on any projects that he does not agree with.

Sources at CRA who were familiar with the plans told Politico that Vought speaks with Trump at least once per month and plans to leverage his relationship with the former president to elevate Christian nationalism in a second term.

Politico noted that Vought is close with William Wolfe, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon and as director of legislative affairs at the State Department during the Trump administration — and has advocated for ending abortion, reducing access to contraceptives and overturning the right to same-sex marriage.

In a post on X last week, Wolfe circulated the false allegation that the shooter who injured two people at a Texas megachurch was transgender, writing “The “T” in LGBT stands for “Terrorist.”

The former Trump official is an advisor on Project 2025, the 887-page governing agenda for the next Republican administration that was created by the Heritage Foundation, another conservative think tank.

Like the CRA document, Project 2025 outlines plans to advance Christian nationalism in American government. Specific policies include the replacement of secular public education with teaching based on the Bible, outlawing all pornography and eroding protections for LGBTQ Americans.

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