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Log Cabin says Boehner helpful on ‘Don’t Ask’ vote

GOP election victories shine spotlight on gay Republican group



Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is expected to become Speaker of the House in January, agreed to a request by the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans not to penalize House Republicans who voted in May for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” according to the group’s leader.

Log Cabin Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said Boehner agreed to his request that the House minority leader not order a Republican whip count for an amendment to a defense authorization bill calling for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Whip counts are sometimes viewed as a means of pressuring members to vote the way party leaders want them to vote, and House GOP leaders, including Boehner, opposed the repeal amendment.

In what he called a conciliatory gesture, Cooper said Boehner agreed to his request to “no whip” the amendment during a conversation at a political event days before the House voted 234 to 194 on May 27 to approve it. Only five Republicans voted for the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.).

“He did not do a whip count,” Cooper said. “And in the grand scheme of things it’s not the biggest deal on the planet. But I saw it as a positive indicator that he didn’t blow me off.”

The repeal measure died in a Senate filibuster. Senate Democratic leaders have promised to bring it up again later this month in a congressional “lame duck” session, but its prospects for passing are uncertain.

Meanwhile, with Republicans winning control of the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections, LGBT activists and Capitol Hill pundits will likely weigh Cooper’s interaction with Boehner as part of their assessment of whether gay Republicans will have access to and influence with House GOP leaders over pending LGBT legislation.

Although Democrats retained their control of the Senate, most political observers — including LGBT advocates — agree that major LGBT-related bills would have no chance of passing in Congress next year without the consent of Republican leaders like Boehner. And most observers believe House Republicans won’t allow gay bills to come to the House floor for a vote.

Cooper, however, said he and his Log Cabin team have a plan for persuading congressional Republican leaders to consider and agree to a vote on at least two gay bills. According to Cooper, one is an as yet to be unveiled tax reform bill that would address “tax inequities that affect the gay community.” The other is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which Democratic leaders declined to bring up for a vote during the past two years. The measure calls for banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cooper said the tax bill would appeal to “the broader conservative community” while addressing inequities in the gay community.

“We would be attracting new or additional allies that we’ve not had in the past,” he said. “There are several members of Congress right now who don’t have a record, good or bad, or who are unknown to our community. And this gives them an opportunity to put a toe in the water on doing pro-equality measures.”

Cooper said the tax bill, the details of which would be released at the start of the new Congress in January, would help pave the way for more Republican support for ENDA.

Other LGBT organizations issued statements Tuesday night saying the Republican takeover of the House and the increased number of Republicans elected to the Senate would essentially eliminate any chance of passing LGBT bills for at least two years.

National Stonewall Democrats, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force each released statements describing the new crop of Republican leaders as “anti-equality.”

HRC noted that Boehner; Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the expected new House majority leader; and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the expected majority whip, each received an HRC scorecard rating of “0” on LGBT issues over the past two years.

D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), who won election to another term on Tuesday, said his opinion of the Republican Party as an impediment to LGBT equality hasn’t changed since he left the party in 2004 over its support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“If the question is what impact gay Republicans will have in a Republican-controlled Congress, the answer is none,” Catania said. “And if the last 10 years has demonstrated anything it’s that the Republican Party has no interest in a big tent, no interest in having gay Republicans at the table.”

“And the fact that gay Republicans continue to live in a fantasy land as if they mattered to the establishment in the GOP is mind blowing,” he said.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who will be replaced as speaker by Boehner in January, gave an equally harsh assessment of the influence of gay Republicans under the new Congress.

“They have got to be drinking some serious Kool-Aid over at Log Cabin Republicans’ headquarters,” said Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill. “To think that a Republican majority would do anything to advance equality for the LGBT community is simply delusional.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, which has been among the lead groups lobbying for ENDA, said she hopes Log Cabin does have access and influence over congressional GOP leaders.

But she noted that some of Log Cabin’s effort could be undercut by what appears to be a rival gay Republican group, GOProud.

Founded by conservative gay GOP activist Christopher Barron, who broke away from Log Cabin two years ago, GOProud received criticism from LGBT activists this fall for producing a campaign ad calling for the defeat of gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). The ad accused Frank of being responsible for “the financial meltdown that devastated our economy” in his role as chair of the House committee that approved government bailouts for banks.

Other activists note that Log Cabin had its own financial meltdown in 2008, when money problems resulted in the layoff of its entire Washington staff. The group’s board and state and local chapters remained active and kept the group going until funds were raised to hire a new executive director and a small Washington staff.

Cooper and other Log Cabin supporters strongly dispute claims that congressional GOP leaders will ignore the group. They note that unlike the last GOP takeover of Congress, virtually none of the current crop of Republican candidates ran on an anti-gay or anti-same-sex marriage platform. Economic issues and the Tea Party-led revolt this year against “big government” overshadowed social issues like gay marriage, Cooper and other Log Cabin members said.

Richard Tafel, who served as Log Cabin’s executive director in the 1990s, told the Blade Tuesday that he believes the new GOP-controlled House will be far more receptive to LGBT equality issues than the GOP Congress he contended with nearly a decade ago.

“I think the Republicans have learned a very harsh lesson from the ‘90s, when I was there, which is gay bashing didn’t work. It was fundamentally a flaw … the Tea Party is all about fiscal responsibility,” he said, adding that the new GOP leadership will likely follow that path rather than expend resources opposing gay equality issues.

Gay Republican activist Jim Driscoll, who served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Bush administration, said Log Cabin’s influence “will be heavily dependent” on its willingness to support Republicans on non-LGBT issues like the economy and GOP positions on AIDS programs.

“Regardless of how Log Cabin fares, I believe that most Republican offices will be more receptive to openly gay Republicans than any time before,” Driscoll said. “Republicans will realize that this election was not won on social issues or gay baiting. In fact, nearly all Republican strategists and consultants advised their candidates to keep quiet or tone down on this one.”


State Department

State Department hosts intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs



The State Department last week hosted a group of intersex activists from around the world. (Courtesy photo)

The State Department last week hosted five intersex activists from around the world.

Kimberly Zieselman, a prominent intersex activist who advises Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, brought the activists to D.C.

• Morgan Carpenter, co-founder and executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia

• Natasha Jiménez, an intersex activist from Costa Rica who is the general coordinator of Mulabi, the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights

• Julius Kaggwa, founder of the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development Uganda

• Magda Rakita, co-founder and executive director of Fujdacja Interakcja in Poland and co-founder of Interconnected UK

• Esan Regmi, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign for Change in Nepal.

Special U.S. Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine are among the officials with whom the activists met.

Zieselman told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 the activists offered State Department officials an “intersex 101” overview during a virtual briefing.

More than 60 Save the Children staffers from around the world participated in another virtual briefing. Zieselman noted the activists also met with Stern, U.N. and Organization of American States officials, funders and NGO representatives while in D.C.

“The people we met were genuinely interested,” Rakita told the Blade.

Stern in an exclusive statement to the Blade said “the visiting intersex activists clearly had an impact here at State, sharing their expertise and lived experience highlighting the urgency to end human rights abuses, including those involving harmful medical practices against intersex persons globally.” Andrew Gleason, senior director for gender equality and social justice at Save the Children US, in a LinkedIn post he wrote after attending his organization’s meeting with the activists echoed Stern.

“There are many learnings to recount from today’s discussion, but one thing is clear, this is unequivocally a child rights issue, and one that demands attention and action at the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights, reproductive rights and justice, disability justice and more,” wrote Gleason. “Gratitude to the panelists for sharing such poignant testimonies and providing insights into what organizations like ours can do to contribute to the broader intersex movement; and thank you to Kimberly for your leadership and bringing this group together.”

The activists’ trip to D.C. coincided with efforts to end so-called sex “normalization” surgeries on intersex children.

Greek lawmakers in July passed a law that bans such procedures on children under 15 unless they offer their consent or a court allows them to happen. Doctors who violate the statute face fines and prison.

Germany Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Spain have also enacted laws that seek to protect intersex youth. 

A law that grants equal rights and legal recognition to intersex people in Kenya took effect in July 2022. Lawmakers in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year passed the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023.

Intersex Human Rights Australia notes the law implements “mechanisms to regulate non-urgent medical care to encourage child participation in medical decisions, establish groundbreaking oversight mechanisms and provide transparency on medical practices and decision making.” It further points out the statute “will criminalize some deferrable procedures that permanently alter the sex characteristics of children” and provides “funding for necessary psychosocial supports for families and children.”

“It’s amazing,” Carpenter told the Blade when discussing the law and resistance to it. “It’s not perfect. There was some big gaps, but physicians are resisting every step of the way.”

The State Department in April 2022 began to issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with an “X” gender marker. Zzyym in October 2021 received the first gender-neutral American passport.

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Federal Government

Federal government prepares for looming shutdown

White House warns of ‘damaging impacts across the country’



U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

However remote they were on Monday, odds of avoiding a government shutdown were narrowed by Thursday evening as House Republicans continued debate over their hyper-partisan appropriations bills that stand no chance of passage by the Upper Chamber.

As lawmakers in the Democratic controlled Senate forged ahead with a bipartisan stop-gap spending measure that House GOP leadership had vowed to reject, the federal government began bracing for operations to grind to a halt on October 1.

This would mean hundreds of thousands of workers are furloughed as more than 100 agencies from the State Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation roll out contingency plans maintained by the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management sent out memos to all agencies instructing them to ready for a shutdown on Sunday.

Before 1980, operations would continue per usual in cases where Congress failed to break an impasse over spending, as lapses in funding tended to last only a few days before lawmakers brokered a deal.

Since then, the government has shut down more than a dozen times and the duration has tended to become longer and longer.

“Across the United States, local news outlets are reporting on the harmful impacts a potential government shutdown would have on American families,” the White House wrote in a release on Thursday featuring a roundup of reporting on how the public might be affected.

“With just days left before the end of the fiscal year, extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country,” the White House said.

The nature and extent of that damage will depend on factors including how long the impasse lasts, but the Biden-Harris administration has warned of some consequences the American public is likely to face.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, warned: “There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation.”

Amid the shortage of air traffic controllers and efforts to modernize aviation technology to mitigate flight delays and cancellations, a government shutdown threatens to “make air travel even worse,” as Business Insider wrote in a headline Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, meanwhile, have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over the consequences for the global fight against AIDS amid the looming expiration, on Oct. 1, of funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

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Federal Government

QAnon follower pleads guilty to threatening member of Congress

Conspiracy movement claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world



QAnon banner at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va., in 2020. (YouTube screenshot from Anthony Crider)

A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.

Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County, for calling the Houston district office of an unnamed member of Congress on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.

The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.

According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9:04 p.m. Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, U.S. House of Representatives (Victim One/”V1″), who is from Houston. The call was received by V1’s office.

In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?” 

Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, N.M., and it was believed that Fox was the user of cell phone account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.

Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms and corporations. 

Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.

Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now trans. Fox discussed his military service with the
U.S. Air Force, “Q the Plan to Save the World,” and how God communicates using

Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
threaten V1.

According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.

The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them. 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by trans people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.

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