Connect with us

National

Levin wants imminent vote on ‘Don’t Ask’ legislation

HRC fears acting too soon could doom vote

Published

on

Sen. Carl Levin (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sen. Carl Levin wants a vote this week on 'Don't Ask' legislation (Blade photo by Michael Key).

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is calling for an immiment vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation as LGBT advocates fear moving forward with bill before negotiations are settled could doom the measure to failure.

On the Senate floor Thursday, Levin urged Senate leadership to bring to the floor before the week is out the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill, which contains “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language.

“If we don’t proceed on this bill this week, then invoking cloture sometime next week, even if we can do it, it would be a symbolic victory,” Levin said. “And I don’t believe that there would be enough time to hammer out a final bill before the end of this session.”

Levin noted that after passage in the Senate, the legislation would still need to go to conference committee before heading to the president’s desk. The Michigan senator said over the past 10 years, conferencing the legislation has taken an average of 75 days.

“Even if we get 60 votes today to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill, and even if we’re able to consider amendments and pass this bill in a few days, it will be a possibly insurmountable challenge to work out all of the differences with the House,” Levin said.

The Michigan senator concluded that the Senate would need to bring up the   the defense authorization bill this week if the legislation is to be passed with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision intact.

“But the only way that this will be real and that the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, don’t Tell,’ assuming we continue to keep it in the bill, will be real is if we proceed to the bill this week.” Levin said. “We cannot and should not delay this vote any longer.”

Levin’s remarks concerned “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal advocates who feel going to the vote too soon could bring an unfortunate result. 

Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president of communications, warned the Senate against taking up the defense authorization bill before negotiations over the legislation complete.

“If senators move forward with a vote on NDAA before a deal has been solidified, the vote will fail and all key players will share the responsibility,” Sainz said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), earlier in the day said he’s “likely” to move forward with the defense authorization bill sometime on Thursday.

Reid has been in talks with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the sponsor of repeal language in the Senate, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who’s seen as the most likely Republican to vote for the motion to proceed, to find sufficient GOP support in moving forward.

Assuming that all 58 members of the Democratic caucus vote in favor of the motion to proceed, repeal advocates would need to pick up at least two votes from Republican senators to meet the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome a filibuster and move forward with the legislation.

Collins has said she would vote in favor of the motion to proceed only after she’s assured a fair amendment process for the defense authorization bill and only after the Senate first takes up the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

National

Bill to support LGBTQ+ seniors in rural areas reintroduced

‘LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation & should be able to access services and care’

Published

on

(Washington Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

WASHINGTON – Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) reintroduced legislation to increase access to needed services and resources for LGBTQ+ seniors who live in rural areas this week.

The Elder Pride Act would bolster the capacity and ability of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) located in rural communities to better serve and support LGBTQ+ seniors who often require affirming care, services, and supports that are often underfunded and scarce in many parts of the country.

Recent surveys show that between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBTQ+ people live in rural American communities.

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation, including rural areas. We all deserve to be able to age in our communities with the services and supports we need to remain independent,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in the press release announcing the reintroduction of the legislation. “We commend Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) on reintroducing the Elder Pride Act. And we honor the contributions of our many LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose tireless advocacy allowed us to reintroduce this critical bill. We look forward to working alongside Reps. Bonamici, Pocan, and Davids, and our LGBTQ+ pioneers nationwide to pass this legislation.”

“LGBTQI+ seniors should be able to access services and care that meets their unique needs, regardless of where they live,” said Rep. Bonamici, Chair of the Equality Caucus’ LGBTQ+ Aging Issues Task Force.”Those who live in rural areas frequently face increased barriers, which Congress can break down. The Elder Pride Act will increase resources for programs and services that will improve the lives of LGBTQI+ elders.”

“The Elder Pride Act will improve the overall health and social and economic well-being of LGBTQI+ older adults and seniors living with HIV in rural areas by better equipping senior service providers with resources to address the unique needs of these communities. I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and co-leaders on the Equality Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Davids,” Bonamici added.

“Rural LGBTQI+ seniors have been lacking access to necessary services and care for too long,” said Pocan, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “The Elder Pride Act creates opportunities for LGBTQ+ seniors in rural communities, benefiting everyone in the region. I look forward to advancing this important legislation.”

“Many of our LGBTQ+ elders fought tirelessly for equality in a world that refused to accept their identity,” said Rep. Davids. “While they overcame tremendous odds to give future generations the rights they deserve, our elders, particularly those in rural communities, continue to face discrimination when accessing long-term care and healthcare. I am proud to support the Elder Pride Act because who you are and who you love should never increase your risk for isolation, poverty, and poor health outcomes as you age.”

The Elder Pride Act complements the Older American Act, which was updated under Bonamici’s leadership, by establishing a rural grant program designed to fund care and services for LGBTQI+ seniors. The grant would also support programs that:

• provide services such as cultural competency training for service providers;

• develop modes of connection between LGBTQI+ older adults and local service providers and community organizations;

• expand the use of nondiscrimination policies and community spaces for older adults who are members of the LGBTQI+ community or another protected class; and,

• disseminate resources on sexual health and aging for senior service providers.

A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.

Continue Reading

State Department

State Department travel advisory warns of potential anti-LGBTQ violence

FBI issued similar warning this week

Published

on

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The State Department on Friday issued a worldwide travel advisory that warns of potential violence against LGBTQ people and LGBTQ-specific events.

“Due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” reads the advisory. “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.”  

The advisory further urges U.S. citizens to:

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Homeland Security Investigations earlier this week issued a similar advisory.

The advisory notes June 12 will mark eight years since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Continue Reading

The White House

White House acknowledges IDAHOBiT, reiterates support for global LGBTQ rights

WHO on May 17, 1990, declassified homosexuality as a mental illness

Published

on

Pride flags fly from an apartment's terrace in Warsaw, Poland, on April 11, 2024. The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia commemorates the World Health Organization's declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Biden-Harris administration on Friday used the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia to reiterate its support of LGBTQ and intersex rights around the world.

“On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, my administration stands in support and solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people around the world as they seek to live full lives, free from violence and discrimination,” said President Joe Biden in a statement. “This is a matter of human rights, plain and simple.” 

“The United States applauds those individuals and groups worldwide working to defend the rights of LGBTQI+ people wherever they are under threat,” he added. “We are grateful for the contributions that LGBTQI+ people make every day across our nation.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Biden.

“On this day, we reflect upon the violence and discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons worldwide suffer and re-commit ourselves to opposing these acts,” said Blinken in his own statement. “This year, like every year, we state unequivocally: LGBTQI+ persons deserve recognition of their universal human rights and human dignity.” 

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder on May 17, 1990.

Blinken in his statement notes LGBTQ and intersex people around the world “continue to face insidious forms of stigma and discrimination.”

Dominica last month became the latest country to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in May 2023 signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that, among other things, contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

“Even as more countries make meaningful advancements towards full equality; LGBTQI+ persons continue to be sentenced to death for daring to live their sexual orientation or gender identity, subjected to coercive conversion ‘therapies’ and ‘normalization’ surgeries, discriminated against while receiving health services, restricted from exercising fundamental freedoms, and denied the dignity of same-sex partnership and fulfillment of family,” said Blinken. 

“As we reflect upon the injustices that LGBTQI+ persons and their allies endure, we must not forget that today is fundamentally a day of action,” he added. “On this day and every day, the United States stands with LGBTQI+ persons around the world. We will continue to advocate for the rights of LGBTQI+ persons not just because we have a moral imperative to do so, but because it helps to strengthen democracy, bolster national security, and promote global health and economic development.”

The Tonga Leitis Association is among the myriad LGBTQ and intersex rights groups around the world that acknowledged IDAHOBiT.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular