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GetEQUAL to stage massive protest against Obama

Activists to take action at Fla. Democratic fundraiser

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The organization responsible for acts of civil disobedience over LGBT issues throughout the country was set on Monday to stage a massive protest against President Obama during his appearance at a Florida fundraiser.

Activists affiliated with GetEQUAL planned to protest Obama during his appearance at a Democratic fundraiser at the bayfront estate of NBA star Alonzo Mourning. Those participating in the protest planned to send their message to the president in nearby places in land, air and sea.

The goal of the protest was to convince Obama to issue an executive order to stop the discharges of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Opponents of the policy have been pressing Obama to issue such an order since the beginning of his administration, but he has yet to take such action.

In a statement, Robin McGehee, co-founder of GetEQUAL, set the protest was intended to “remind” Obama of his failure to live up to his campaign promises to the LGBT community, including repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“If the president is going to travel around the country asking for our dollars and our votes, then we are going to travel with him and insist that he first give us some of the hope and change he he promised,” she said. “As of now, we’re still hoping.”

According to a statement from GetEQUAL, protesters stationed at nearby places in the land, air and sea had planned different activities for the protest. By land, activists were set to hold along a road 10-foot signs saying “End the Discharges Now” and “We’ll Give When We GetEQUAL” while the presidential motorcade entered the estate.

Anthony Woods, a gay former Democratic congressional candidate in California and Army veteran discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, planned to approach Obama to inform him about the purpose of the protests and to remind him of his campaign promises.

A second set of activists were set to take action on boats in the nearby bay once the president was inside the fundraiser. The protesters were set to shout via bullhorns “End the Discharges Now” and “We’ll Give When We GetEQUAL.”

Meanwhile, activists planned to launch two, large 8-foot weather balloons carrying 10-foot long banners reading “GetEQUAL.org” to carry the message in the sky.

“Regardless of the spin coming out of the White House, President Obama has the power to dramatically impact the course of civil rights history for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” McGehee said.  “Unfortunately, all we have yet to see from the president, who the LGBT community overwhelmingly supported, is excuses, delays and passing the buck off to someone else.  That isn’t change we can believe in, that’s just more of the same.”

UPDATE: The protest against Obama generally proceeded as planned.

As the president spoke at the event, air horns could be heard across the bay from the protesters in boats. At one point the protesters could be heard yelling.

Some members of the audience looked over, but noise was not loud enough to disrupt and the president continued his speech uninterrupted.

While the protest for the most part proceeded as intended, Woods was denied access to the event as well as local activist Itzel Diaz, according to a GetEQUAL statement. The organization said the activists were informed the White House made the decision against letting them in the fundraiser.

But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee denied GetEQUAL’s account of this aspect of the protest.

DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said, “Ms. Diaz called on Friday and said she may be interested in attending the event with a guest. However, Ms. Diaz did not confirm attendance, payment was not submitted, and no information was provided for vetting.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz

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The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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