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Barney Frank: Obama should reconsider ‘Don’t Ask’ appeal

Says president ‘made a mistake’ in decision

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The longest serving openly gay member of Congress on Wednesday said President Obama “made a mistake” by appealing a court decision against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and should consider the reconsider the decision if the Senate can’t pass repeal in the lame duck session.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said in a statement that “two things that were always true” about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have become even more apparent since U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips struck down the law and put in place an injunction against enforcing it.

“First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional,” Frank said. “While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster.”

Frank said the uncertainly about the injunction, which could be overturned by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, underscores for the Senate to act to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in lame duck. The lawmaker said the president “must use every available tool he has to press the Senate to do this.”

Additionally, Frank said if the Senate should be unable to pass “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal this year, the president should “reconsider the decision to appeal” and ensure that any member of the U.S. military who acts in accord with the injunction not be subject to discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the future.

“While the President does not have the authority unilaterally to repeal a statute, he clearly has the discretion to order that no subsequent retroactive application of the policy be imposed,” Frank said.

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Politics

Trump found guilty on all counts, sentencing scheduled for July 11

Biden campaign: ‘we saw that no one is above the law.’

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Former President Donald Trump (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, was found guilty on Thursday of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

After the 12 jurors returned with their verdict Judge Juan Merchan of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11.

Though his conviction calls for a four-year prison sentence, the former president will almost certainly appeal the verdict, which could forestall a final resolution in the case for several years. The remaining three criminal cases against Trump are likely to begin after Election Day, Nov. 5.

“In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law,” Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler said in a statement.

“Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain,” he said. “But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.”

“The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater,” Tyler said. “He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator ‘on day one’ and calling for our Constitution to be ‘terminated’ so he can regain and keep power.”

Tyler added, “A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans’ freedoms and fomenting political violence — and the American people will reject it this November.”

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said in a statement, “The twice-impeached, forever disgraced former president of the United States has now been convicted of 34 felony counts by a jury of his peers.”

“Today’s conviction shows clearly that no one is above the law. And now, we must commit to showing up in November and ensuring that Trump doesn’t make his way from the courthouse back to the White House.”

“The verdict underlines that no one is above the law, and that election interference is a serious crime that harms every American, including and especially vulnerable people whose voices should be heard and whose votes should be counted,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

“The trial detailed how Donald Trump lied and schemed to get elected. In four horrific years in office he stripped LGBTQ Americans, all women, and others of our essential human rights, then lied about losing the 2020 election and encouraged a deadly riot at the Capitol to overturn it,” she said.

“Donald Trump is now a twice convicted, twice impeached, serial liar and sexual abuser who has always seen the presidency as a scam to enrich and protect himself,” Ellis said. “Today the jury emphatically said Trump is guilty as charged. Voters everywhere should follow the jury’s lead and continue to hold him accountable for his crimes, anti-American behavior and rhetoric.”

Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen, said: “This is an historic moment for democracy. A jury heard evidence that Donald Trump illegally interfered in the 2016 election and rendered a fair and appropriate verdict.”

“New York’s prosecutors served justice by bringing this case,” Gilbert said. “We applaud the jury for doing its job and standing up for the fundamental principle that no one is above the law, not even a former president.”

She added, “Justice was served today. On to the next trial!”

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Libertarian Party nominates gay candidate for 2024 presidential election

Chase Oliver was third-party U.S. Senate candidate in 2022

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Chase Oliver (Screen capture: YouTube/ABC 11)

After a contentious seven rounds of voting on Sunday, the Libertarian Party nominated Chase Oliver, a gay sales account executive and former U.S. Senate candidate, to run in the 2024 presidential election.

Oliver will represent America’s third largest political party, whose endorsement had been solicited by the leading Republican and Independent candidates, Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Libertarian candidates typically earn about one percent of the national vote share during presidential elections, though Gary Johnson earned three percent in 2016, and Jo Jorgensen secured more votes than comprised the margin of victory in some 2020 battleground states.

Oliver’s third-party candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2022 helped force a runoff election that was won by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

Both Trump and Kennedy spoke at the Libertarian convention over the weekend, but they only earned a respective 0.65 percent and two percent of the votes from the party’s 900 delegates. (Trump, a write-in candidate, would likely have been ineligible to receive the nomination since he is the presumptive GOP nominee.)

Taking aim at Trump as well as the Democratic nominee, President Joe Biden, Oliver said during his acceptance speech, “We know that the lesser of two evils continues to give us more evil. But we’re done with that, and so are the voters.”

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HRC invests $15 million in six battleground states ahead of November elections

Group made announcement on Monday

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Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign will target a record-high 75 million pro-LGBTQ voters nationwide with a public education and mobilization campaign ahead of the 2024 elections, which includes a $15 million investment in six key battleground states, the group announced on Monday.

The initiative will focus on voters in states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Nevada with “hired staff, field efforts, events, paid advertising, mobilization, and grassroots engagement,” HRC wrote in a press release announcing the campaign, which is titled “We Show Up: Equality Wins.”

HRC defines Equality Voters as constituents who are “united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality, and are younger, more racially diverse, and more female than the general electorate.”

Among those who would vote for third-party candidates if the election were held today — 22 percent, or 16.5 million people — survey results show half would support President Joe Biden if they reach the understanding that their third-party vote would support Donald Trump’s bid for the White House.

Along with re-electing Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, HRC’s campaign will work “to defeat escalating anti-trans attacks” and “electing historic LGBTQ+ and pro-equality candidates down-the-ballot,” the group wrote.

HRC will support LGBTQ candidates in California, Texas, New York, and Delaware with the aim of helping to elect a pro-equality majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

“Trump and his MAGA allies are promising a hate-filled agenda that hurts everyone who doesn’t look and live like them,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said. “They think they can bully and scare us and take away our fundamental freedoms. But the LGBTQ+ community has won these hard fights before — and we refuse to go back.”

HRC noted “Trump has promised to not just undo all the progress made by the Biden-Harris administration; but to erase LGTBQ+ people from federal law, further dismantle access to health care for transgender people, and dictate curriculum for school children.” 

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