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Carney: No list of LGBT promises for 2012 election

W.H. spokesperson says Obama remains committed to 2008 pledges



White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday he doesn’t expect President Obama to issue a list of promises to the LGBT community as part of his re-election campaign as he did during the 2008 election season.

During a news conference, Carney made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether Obama would publish a list of objectives he wanted to achieve for the LGBT community during the second term of his administration.

“Well, I don’t anticipate reissuing a list,” Carney said. “I think his position on a number of issues has been clear and his accomplishments on a number of issues have been clear. So as is true with a number of the goals he set forward during his campaign and in the first two-plus years of his administration, he remains [committed to] those that are unfinished.”

Carney noted the president has been “saying a lot lately we still have a lot of work to do, and we’re not done yet” and maintained Obama “will remain committed to a number of policy objectives that haven’t been achieved yet.”

In 2008, Obama published an open letter to the LGBT community for the month of Pride listing the objectives he would advocate for on behalf of the LGBT community upon election.

Some promises in the letter have come to fruition. For example, then-Democratic presidential nominee Obama said he would “place the weight” of his administration behind passage of hate crimes protections legislation. Congress enacted such a statute in 2009 as part of the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill. Additionally, Obama has signed legislation allowing for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, although certification implementing open service has yet to take place.

But other promises in the 2008 letter remain unfulfilled. Obama pledged to work to pass an Employment Non-Discrimination Act to provide protections in the U.S. workforce on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but Congress has yet to pass such a statute. The president also said he would seek complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, but the anti-gay law remains on the books.

Obama’s position on same-sex marriage has marginally changed since he issued the letter. In the missive, Obama says he believes civil unions “represent the best way to secure that equal treatment” for same-sex couples, stopping short of an endorsement for gay nuptials. The president has since suggested his position could evolve on the issue and that he’s wrestling with the idea of same-sex marriage. Advocates have been pressing Obama to issue an outright endorsement of marriage equality.

During the news conference, Carney said Obama remains committed to the outstanding promises to the LGBT that were made during the 2008 election.

“Well, I think you know that we’ve taken a pretty significant action on DOMA,” Carney said. “And on the other issues, I think he remains committed to the agenda on a variety of issues that he laid forward.”

Carney was referring to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement on Feb. 23 that Obama determined that DOMA was unconstitutional and that the Justice Department would no longer defend the anti-gay law in court. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has since directed the House general counsel to take up defense of DOMA following a party-line 3-2 vote in March by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

The exchange between the Blade and Carney follows:

Washington Blade: Jay, a question on the president’s 2012 reelection campaign. Back in 2008, the President outlined to the LGBT community a litany of objectives he wanted to achieve over the course of his administration. Do you expect that as we get closer to November 2012 that he’s going to reissue some sort of list of what he wants to achieve with the LGBT community in the second term of his administration — perhaps making new promises?

Jay Carney: Well, I don’t anticipate reissuing a list. I think his position on a number of issues has been clear and his accomplishments on a number of issues have been clear. So as is true with a number of the goals he set forward during his campaign and in the first two-plus years of his administration, he remains [committed to] those that are unfinished. As he’s been saying a lot lately we still have a lot of work to do and we’re not done yet.  And so I think that he will remain committed to a number of policy objectives that haven’t been achieved yet.

Blade: Just to be clear, just to be clear — two major promises that he made to the LGBT community back in 2008 remain unfulfilled. That’s passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and full legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Do you still see those happening in the course of the Obama administration?

Carney: Well, I think you know that we’ve taken a pretty significant action on DOMA. And on the other issues, I think he remains committed to the agenda on a variety of issues that he laid forward.

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California mom claims school manipulated child into changing gender identity

Jessica Konen gave the school permission to use the boy’s name for attendance and tried to be supportive but noted it was difficult for her



Fox News host Laura Ingraham & Center for American Liberty CEO Harmeet Dhillon with client, Jessica Konen (Screenshot Fox News)

A Northern California mother is claiming teachers in a small school district in the state manipulated her daughter into changing her gender identity and name in a legal claim. 

The claim, filed by the ultra-conservative Center for American Liberty on behalf of the mother, alleged “extreme and outrageous conduct” by the Spreckels Union School District, leading Jessica Konen’s 11-year-old daughter to change her gender identity and drive a wedge between them.

Specifically, the claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, names two teachers – Lori Caldera and Kelly Baraki – at Buena Vista Middle who, in addition to teaching, ran the school’s Equality Club, later known as UBU (You Be You). Buena Vista is a part of the district. 

It comes after Abigail Shrier, the author of a book widely criticized as anti-trans, quoted what the two educators said last year at the California Teachers Association’s annual LGBTQ+ Issues Conference in a piece headlined “How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids.” Caldera and Baraki spoke about the difficulty of running a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in a socially conservative community. 

After the article was published, the teachers were put on administrative leave, and the district hired a law firm to investigate, which is ongoing. The UBU club was suspended. 

Spreckels is a town of about 400 people in the agricultural Salinas Valley, approximately 90 miles south of San Francisco

According to the complaint, Konen’s daughter began attending Equality Club meetings after being invited by a friend when she started sixth grade at Buena Vista. After attending one session, she decided it wasn’t for her until Caldiera convinced her to come back. At the gatherings, Caldera and Baraki held LGBTQ-centered discussions and introduced students to different gender identities and sexualities. 

During her time in the club, Konen’s daughter began exploring her own gender identity and sexuality, choosing to wear more masuline clothes. At some point, she decided to change her name and pronouns, which she has since changed back to her original name and pronouns. 

Konen said she was aware her daughter was bisexual but did not know she began using a male name and gender pronouns until she was called into the school when her daughter was in seventh grade. The meeting caught both Konen and her daughter by surprise – Konen’s daughter had said she wanted to notify her mother, but she did not know the meeting was that day. 

Konen gave the school permission to use the boy’s name for attendance and tried to be supportive but noted it was difficult for her. 

However, when Shrier’s article was published and circulated around the small town, everything changed. At this time, Konen’s daughter was again using a female name and pronouns.

In the leaked recording from the LGBTQ conference, Caldera and Baraki were discussing how they kept meetings private, among other things. 

“When we were doing our virtual learning — we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work,” Baraki said. “One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we’re like, ‘Check.’ We’re going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.”

However, Caldera told the San Francisco Chronicle that the quotes were either taken out of context or misrepresented. According to Caldera, the stalking comment was a joke. She also defended their work, saying students lead the conversation and they provide honest and fair answers to their questions.
In addition, a spokesperson for the California Teachers Association criticized the group bringing the lawsuit forward, according to the Associated Press: “We are concerned about a political climate right now in which outside political forces fuel chaos and misinformation and seek to divide parents, educators and school communities for their own political gain, which is evident in this complaint. The Center for American Liberty is concerned with pushing its own political agenda through litigation and has filed multiple lawsuits against various school districts and communities.”

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GOP majority city council to repeal LGBTQ+ law in Pennsylvania

“I don’t know of any reasons for repealing it other than a political move […] This issue should not be politicized”



Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Photo Credit: Borough of Chambersburg)

The council of this central Pennsylvania borough (town) will meet on Monday, January 24 for a likely vote to repeal an ordinance passed this last October that safeguards residents against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity.

Opposition to the ordinance is led by newly installed borough council president Allen Coffman, a Republican. In an interview with media outlet Penn Live Saturday, Coffman said, “All of us that ran in this election to be on council we think we got a mandate from the people,” he said. “People we talked to when we were campaigning did not like this ordinance at all. I don’t know what the vote will be, but I have a pretty good idea.”

The political makeup of the council changed with the November municipal election, which ushered in a 7-3 Republican majority.

The ordinance, which extends protections against discrimination to gay, transgender or genderqueer people in employment, housing and public accommodations, was passed in October by the then-Democratic majority council, Penn Live reported.

“I don’t know of any reasons for repealing it other than a political move,” said Alice Elia, a Democrat and the former Chambersburg borough council president. “This issue should not be politicized. It’s an issue of justice and having equal protection for everybody in our community. It shouldn’t be a political or a Democratic or Republican issue. This should be something we are all concerned about.”

Coffman told Penn Live that the ordinance serves no purpose and is redundant. He points out that Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Commission handles discrimination complaints from residents across the state.

“There are no penalties, no fines,” he said. “There’s nothing that the ordinance can make someone do. The most they can hope for is that the committee request the two parties to sit down with a counselor or mediator and talk about it. Quite frankly there is nothing that compels them to. There’s no teeth in this.”

Penn Live’s Ivey DeJesus noted if Chambersburg succeeds in repealing the ordinance, it would mark the first time an LGBTQ inclusive law is revoked in Pennsylvania. To date, 70 municipalities have ratified such ordinances.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the 27 states in the nation that have no explicit statewide laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

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Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Equality Florida quickly condemned the measure



The Florida State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

The Republican majority Florida House Education and Employment Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.

HB 1557 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.

The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.

“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

In an email to the Los Angeles Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85 percent of transgender and non-binary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66 percent) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56 percent of transgender and non-binary youth said it made them feel angry, 47 percent felt nervous and/or scared, 45 percent felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, the Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at, or by texting START to 678678. 

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