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Levin: Senate to take up ‘Don’t Ask’ in September

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Carl Levin (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told the Blade on Thursday he’s expecting the full Senate to take up “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in September after lawmakers return from August recess.

Advocates have been anticipating a vote on the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill — the vehicle to which repeal language is attached — after the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27 attached the provision to the bill and reported out the legislation to the floor.

Levin said the quickest possible route for passing repeal in the Senate is now reaching an agreement this month to take up the defense bill shortly after lawmakers return from August break.

“What we’re hoping to do before August is to have an agreement which will pave the way for it being brought up right after the recess,” Levin said.

Bryan Thomas, a Levin spokesperson, later clarified that Levin was referring to an agreement negotiated between majority and minority leadership.

Levin, who had earlier said he was hoping for a vote on the defense bill in July, said this agreement would eliminate the possibility of a filibuster on a motion to proceed after lawmakers return.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said his organization is also urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring the defense legislation to the floor “right after the Labor Day recess.”

“Yes, it would have been better if we were on the Senate floor this month, but the calendar was just too crowded,” Sarvis said.

Sarvis said scheduling the defense bill for a vote in early September is “absolutely essential” to move forward with repeal to finish legislative action “before Congress goes into ‘lame-duck mode.'”

“This is the bill that provides for the pay and benefits and equipment for all service members, straight and gay,” he said. “This bill and these core benefits for our [service members] should not be caught up in post election games and posturing.”

In addition to wanting to move forward with the defense legislation, proponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal have expressed concern about opponents of the language filibustering the defense legislation as a whole, or stripping out the provision with a substitute amendment or a motion to strike.

Levin said he doesn’t think either a filibuster or an amendment would succeed, but added the odds of a successful amendment passing the Senate may “depend on what the wording is.”

The senator said he hasn’t seen any draft amendments relating to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language, but predicted one would come to the floor.

“I haven’t seen it,” Levin said. “I know there will be, but I haven’t seen it.”

Sarvis said he shares Levin’s confidence that repeal language in the defense legislation can be retained.

“The Senate votes are likely to be close, but, in the end, I think, repeal proponents will prevail,” Sarvis said.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. AndrewW

    July 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    The non-compromise, non-repeal “Compromise Repeal” will not pass the US Senate. This is a charade from Democrats and Gay Inc., to appear like they’ve made progress. We will soon hear “we were so close.”

    When the idea of a DOD Study was included, it meant this would be delayed or defeated until the Study was completed. It gave opponents the ability to tell constituents this election cycle that “government is so out of control, they want to vote on something and THEN study it.”

    There are not enough votes to pass LGBT legislation in the US Senate.

  2. Duane S.

    July 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Add this to another “I will believe it when I see it”.

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Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

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Biden to nominate LGBTQ synagogue rabbi to religious freedom commission

Sharon Kleinbaum joined NYC’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1992

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Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

President Biden on Friday announced he plans to nominate the chief rabbi of an LGBTQ synagogue in New York City to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1992.

“She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis when the synagogue was in desperate need of pastoral care and spiritual leadership,” reads a bio that announced Biden’s intention to nominate Kleinbaum to the commission. “She guided the congregation through a period of loss and change, while addressing social issues and building a strong and deeply spiritual community. Under her leadership as senior rabbi, CBST has become a powerful voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.”

Kleinbaum is married to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The commission seeks to defend religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world. The president and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress nominate members.

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Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

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Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least four D.C. gay bars announced this week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners, and the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building.

The four bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It was scheduled to take effect 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine will allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on Friday to also put in place a requirment that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a 5-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than three a requirement to accomodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. gay bars couldn’t immeidately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other gay bars as of Friday afternoon that they planed to put in place a proof of vaccination requiremenet. 

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