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McCain objects to Senate ‘Don’t Ask’ consideration

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Sen. John McCain (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday objected to a motion to bring “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal up for consideration on the Senate floor — indicating support for a filibuster of the measure.

McCain spoke out against the inclusion of repeal in the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill in an exchange with Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on the Senate floor.

Levin asked for unanimous consent to bring to the floor in September the defense bill to which the Senate Armed Services Committee already attached repeal, but McCain objected and said he wouldn’t allow the Senate to proceed.

“I’m not going to allow us to move forward,” McCain said. “I will be discussing with my leaders and the 41 members of this side of the aisle as to whether we’re going to be moving forward with a bill that contains that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy repealed before, before a meaningful survey of the impact on battle effectiveness and morale of the men and women who are serving this nation in uniform.”

McCain called the inclusion of repeal in the defense legislation without the completion of this study a “disgrace.”

Levin, a proponent of repeal, responded by saying allowing the bill to come to the floor would allow the Senate to consider amendments to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.

“The main point is that the place to debate these policies is on the floor of the Senate,” Levin said. “The Senate will determine, if we can get this bill to the floor, whether or not we make that conditional change in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or whether we do a number of other things.”

Levin further noted the language in the bill makes repeal conditional on completion of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” study currently underway at the Pentagon, which is due Dec. 1, as well as certification from the president and military leaders.

In a statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, accused McCain of flip-flopping on his position, noting an article in Congressional Quarterly earlier on Thursday quoting McCain as saying he wouldn’t support a filibuster.

“In less than 24 hours, Sen. McCain seems to have changed his mind on blocking a critical defense bill in order to score some political points with his base,” Solmonese said. “Our country needs the best and brightest men and women in uniform and no one should play politics when it’s time to get down to doing the people’s business.”

Continuing to rail against the inclusion of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language, McCain recalled his discontent over the inclusion of hate crimes protections language in the previous year’s budget legislation.

“I’ve only been a member of this committee, Mr. President, since 1987,” McCain said. “I never seen what the chairman of the committee did last year by bringing a totally irrelevant and very controversial issue and put it on the defense authorization bill.”

The attachment of hate crimes legislation to the defense authorization bill happened at least twice before last year in the Senate in 2004 and 2007. Supporters of the hate crimes measure at the time said this method helped to protect the legislation against dangerous amendments.

Solmonese also addressed McCain’s remarks in opposition to inclusion of hate crimes protections in the defense bill.

“He tried his hardest to prevent Americans from being protected from hate crimes and lost,” Solmonese said. “His attempt to prevent qualified openly lesbian and gay service members from serving will be a failing effort as well.”

Following his floor speech, McCain elaborated to the Blade on his opposition to repeal language in the defense authorization bill.

“I just think that a survey needs to be conducted as to the effect on morale and battle effectiveness before the repeal is voted on, and everybody’s entitled to their own views, but to repeal it before before we get that assessment, I think, is really a serious mistake,” he said.

Asked whether he would introduce a motion to strike or a substitute amendment with regard to that langauge, McCain replied, “We don’t yet know exactly what we’re going to do.”

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1 Comment

  1. customartist

    August 6, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Americans have pulled away from the Extreme Political Right just as they have pulled away from the Extreme Religious Institutions as they are seeing these groups for the self-serving, animosity-perpetuating folks that they really are.

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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Washington Blade file photo)

Appearing remotely on MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace’s politics program Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the attack on his parental leave.

“This attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, ” Buttigieg said.

During his Thursday evening program Carlson said, “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child—paternity leave, they call it—trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went. But now he’s back in office as the transportation secretary and he’s deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can’t get into this country.”

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National

Biden recognizes National Coming Out Day as time to honor LGBTQ people

White House statement denounces ‘bullying and harassment’

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President Biden recognized Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day in a statement on Monday calling the occasion a time to celebrate the “courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self.”

Biden ticked off in the statement the achievements on LGBTQ policy, including signing an executive order on his first day in his office ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year against anti-LGBTQ discrimination to the furthest extent possible.

“Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures,” Biden said. “Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on National Coming Out Day

Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self. Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.

My Administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people can live openly, proudly, and freely in every corner of our nation. I am proud to lead an Administration with LGBTQ+ officials serving openly at the highest levels of government — and prouder that together we have made historic progress advancing protections and equal opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. From acting on Day One to prevent and combat discrimination, to enabling all qualified Americans – including transgender Americans – to serve their country in uniform, to defending the human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world, my Administration has been clear that we will continue to champion the dignity, equality, and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. From defeating discriminatory bills to passing the Equality Act, we have more work to do to ensure that every American can live free of fear, harassment, and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.

To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you. My Administration will always have your back, and we will continue fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect you deserve.

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News

Senators to Rachel Levine: Issue guidance on mental health for trans youth

New instructions sought as more than half of trans youth contemplate suicide

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Sen. Chris Murphy (left) is leading the call on Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine to offer guidance on trans health care.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is leading a group of senators who are urging Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to win Senate confirmation as a presidential appointee, to issue new guidance on mental health care needs for trans youth.

In a letter dated Sept. 30 and obtained Tuesday by the Washington Blade, the senators make the case current standards are insufficient for trans and gender expansive, or TGE, adolescents, including exploring, non-binary, agender, genderfluid and queer youth.

“Our goal is to help mental health providers offer the best care they can to the nation’s TGE youth without a delay in treatment,” the letter says. “The focus of this request is for the pressing needs of hospital or residential care even as we recognize the need for guidance across all settings of mental health care.”

Specifically, the senators call on the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, or BHCC, and experts in the field of adolescent trans care to offer guidance on best practices for inpatient mental health care among these youth.

The senators address the letter to Levine, who in addition to being trans has a background in care for adolescent youth, and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use.

Cited in the letter are findings from the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth, which determined more than half of trans and non-binary youth seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020.

“While behavioral health and pediatric organizations have published resources regarding TGE health care, we have heard from hospital providers they are seeking guidance on best practices for serving gender diverse youth in community residential and inpatient mental health settings,” the letter says.

The seven senators who signed the letter along with Murphy are Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

An HHS spokesperson for Levine’s office, in response to the letter, told the Blade: “We have received the letter and will be reviewing it.”

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