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Federal judge who struck down Prop 8 comes out: report

Walker makes first public comments on case following decision



The retired U.S. district judge who struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage last year came out as gay to reporters on Wednesday and said he’s been in a relationship with a physician for 1o years, according to Reuters.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired from the bench in February, also reportedly said he never considered his sexual orientation a reason to recuse himself from the case, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which is challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and is now on appeal.

Walker reportedly said it would not be appropriate for any judge’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to prevent them from presiding over a case.

“That’s a very slippery slope,” Walker was quoted as saying.

The talk to a handful of reporters was Walker’s first public comments to reporters about presiding over the lawsuit challenging to Proposition 8. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last year Walker is gay, although he wouldn’t comment on the reporting.

Walker’s announcement also retroactively makes him the first openly gay male to sit on the federal bench. Other openly out gay male federal judicial nominees are pending before the Senate: J. Paul Oetken, nominated to become a district judge for the U.S. Southern District of New York, and Edmund DuMont, nominated to become an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Denis Dison, spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said gay judges shouldn’t expected to recuse themselves from cases because of their sexual orientation.

“Just as nobody would think to ask a female judge to recuse herself in cases involving discrimination against women, it is equally absurd to think a gay judge should recuse himself in a case involving LGBT issues,” Dison said. “All that matters is that judges are qualified, competent, impartial and fair.”

Dison added that LGBT Americans are still “dramatically underrepresented” on the federal bench and said “it’s nothing short of bullying” to suggest a judge’s sexual orientation would prevent him or her from deciding a case on its merits.

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Victory Fund honors Maine House speaker at D.C. conference

Ryan Fecteau is gay Catholic University alum



Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau accepts the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award at the Victory Fund International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 4, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Victory Fund on Saturday honored Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau on the last day of its International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Fecteau — an openly gay Catholic University of America alum — won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014. He became the chamber’s speaker in 2018.

“Hate and intolerance will not derail us,” said Fecteau after Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith presented him with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which is named after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “Our community will not be intimidated.”

The Victory Fund on Friday honored Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, a gay man who is living with HIV.

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Rachel Levine: Efforts to deny health care to trans youth are ‘politics’

Former Pa. health secretary opened Victory Fund conference



Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine speaks at the Victory Fund's 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 2, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine on Thursday criticized efforts to prevent transgender youth from accessing health care.

“Unfortunately, some have fought to prevent transgender youth from accessing the health care that they need,” she said in a speech she delivered at the opening of the Victory Fund’s 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference that took place in-person at the JW Marriott in downtown D.C. “This is politics and this politics has no place in health care and public health and they defy the established standards of care written by medical experts.”

Levine was Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary until President Biden nominated her to become assistant secretary of health.

She became the first openly trans person confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March. Levine in October became a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

The conference will take place in-person and virtually through Sunday.

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VIDEO: Biden addresses advocates on World AIDS Day

President says end to transmission ‘within striking distance’



President Biden addressed advocates on World AIDS Day.

President Biden, in remarks delivered Wednesday at the White House in recognition of World AIDS Day, said to advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS the end to HIV transmission was near.

“It’s because of you and it’s not hyperbole to suggest that we are within striking distance of eliminating HIV transmission, within striking distance,” Biden told attendees in the East Room.

Joining Biden in the East Room were Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra and Gabriel Maldonado, an HIV/AIDS Advocate and founder of TruEvolution, a Riverside, Calif.-based LGBTQ group.

Biden also during his remarks touted having made the appointment of Harold Phillips to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy — a position that had gone vacant throughout the entirety of the Trump administration.

Notably, Biden talked about the Ending the HIV Epidemic plan, an initiate health officials started in the Trump administration, by saying was to beat HIV domestically by 2030. That was initial target date when the initiative, but Biden had campaigned on defeating by HIV by 2025 to the skepticism off observers.

Watch Biden full remarks below:

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