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House panel approves measure against LGBT persecution overseas

Amendment introduced by Rep. Barney Frank

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Rep. Barney Frank (Blade photo by Michael Key).

A U.S. House committee on Tuesday approved an amendment to major Treasury department legislation that would pressure countries overseas that persecute LGBT people or religious minority groups.

The House Financial Services Committee passed the measure, introduced by gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), by voice vote as part of legislation that outlines fiscal year 2012 budget priorities for issues under its jurisdiction, including recommended funds for the Treasury Department and the World Bank. Harry Gural, a Frank spokesperson, said only person on the committee voiced a “no” vote to the amendment, although he didn’t know the identity of this lawmaker.

The text of the amendment follows:

The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one’s own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a statement, Frank, ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, praised the passage of the amendment and said it would address persecution faced by LGBT people overseas, including in places like Uganda, where legislation is pending before parliament that would institute the death penalty for homosexual acts.

“What we have seen in recent years is a pattern of gross violation of human rights in some countries — extreme physical persecution and even execution. In Uganda for example, which was the major beneficiary of our Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, there has been physical persecution of people who are sexual minorities.”

“The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area. And we should not be supportive of providing multilateral bank development funds going to the governments of countries which engage in the physical persecution of people because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Now that the committee approved the amendment, it will remain a component of the larger legislation as it proceeds to the House floor. The panel approved the larger bill by a vote of 29-24; Frank was among the “no” votes on final passage.

According to Frank’s office, because of the support the measure enjoyed in committee, supporters hope it will garner support to pass as part of the larger bill in the House Budget Committee and full House.

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Congress

FBI, SEC launch investigations into alleged George Santos GoFundMe scam

Embattled N.Y. congressman stepped down from committees on Tuesday

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Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.) (Screen shot via YouTube)

Republican U.S. Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) faces yet another law enforcement probe, this time over allegations the congressman ran a GoFundMe scam in 2016 by crowdsourcing for a U.S. Navy veteran and his cancer-stricken service dog before absconding with the money.

Politico reported on Wednesday that the veteran, Richard Osthoff, furbished text messages to FBI agents who were working on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which is reportedly conducting a parallel investigation into Santos’ campaign finances.

The news comes a day after Santos resigned from his two committee assignments following a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) announced on Twitter Wednesday that he filed a complaint against Santos with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission “for violating federal securities law.”

Torres wrote that his GOP colleague “illegally operated as a broker without a license, raising funds from unsuspecting investors for Harbor City Capitol, a 17 million dollar Ponzi scheme.”

Last month, Torres and fellow U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) filed an FEC complaint against Santos over his alleged violations of campaign finance laws. And over the weekend, the Justice Department reportedly asked the FEC to yield to federal prosecutors — likely a sign that the campaign finance issues are the subject of a criminal probe.

Santos reportedly faces investigations by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. He has been embroiled in controversy since his arrival to Washington following revelations that nearly every part of his biography and identity were complete fabrications.

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Trump pledges to weaponize fed’l gov’t against trans Americans if reelected

Former president’s anti-trans proposals range from healthcare to education

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President Donald Trump (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

Former President Donald Trump promised to weaponize the might of the federal government against transgender Americans if voters send him back to the White House next year.

He detailed the plans in a video shared on the platform Rumble, which is popular among conservative and far-right users.

Some would restore policies enacted during his administration by executive orders that were overturned by President Joe Biden, while other proposals were more extreme or would face an unclear path to implementation because they would require acts of Congress.

Trump began by inveighing against guideline-directed medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors — practices that are approved by every major mainstream American and international scientific and medical institution with relevant clinical expertise.

“I will sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age,” Trump said, promising also to urge Congress to ban certain procedures for minors nationwide.

“I will declare that any hospital or healthcare provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth will no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare and will be terminated from the program immediately,” the former president said, referring again to healthcare interventions whose safety and efficacy has been demonstrated in hundreds of peer reviewed studies in scientific and medical journals.

Trump also said he would create a private right of action allowing for lawsuits against doctors and healthcare providers for administering or facilitating access to treatments for trans and gender non-conforming youth.

“The Department of Justice will investigate big pharma and the big hospital networks to determine whether they have deliberately covered up horrific long term side effects of sex transitions in order to get rich at the expense of vulnerable patients,” Trump said.

The former president then looked beyond healthcare, promising to erase trans people from schools and refuse to recognize them by the U.S. government.

“My Department of Education will inform states and school districts that if any teacher or school official suggests to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body, they will be faced with severe consequences including potential civil rights violations for sex discrimination and the elimination of federal funding,” Trump said.

As part of credentialing for America’s teachers, messages promoting “the nuclear family” and child-rearing by “mothers and fathers” would be required, Trump said, adding that he would ask Congress to “pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female and they are assigned at birth.”

“The bill will also make clear,” Trump said, “that Title IX prohibits men from participating in women’s sports and we will protect the rights of parents from being forced to allow their minor child to assume a gender which is new and an identity without the parents’ consent.”

Trump concluded his message with the false assertion that gender dysphoria “was never heard of in all of human history” until “the radical left invented it just a few years ago.”

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Congress

George Santos to step down from committee assignments

Embattled gay Republican under pressure to resign

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Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) Screen shot via YouTube)

Republican Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) told House GOP colleagues on Tuesday that he will step down from his two committee assignments pending the resolution of investigations and possible law enforcement activity over his alleged financial crimes and violations of campaign finance laws.

Santos, who was appointed to the House Small Business and Science, Space and Technology Committees, neither of which are considered high profile, announced his recusal during a closed-door session following his meeting on Monday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Today’s news marks the first sign that the many scandals with which Santos has been enveloped since his arrival to Washington may have fractured his relationships with and support from House Republican leadership.

Over the weekend, the Justice Department reportedly asked the Federal Election Commission to yield to the federal prosecutors probing Santos’ campaign finance activity, a likely signal that a criminal investigation is underway.

Santos is also the subject of a complaint filed to the House Ethics Committee as well as parallel investigations conducted by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The congressman has faced calls to resign, including from members of his own party, since it was revealed last month that he had fabricated virtually every part of his identity and biography.

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