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Carney dodges on Obama’s position on ‘ex-gay’ therapy

W.H. spox refers questions on Medicaid funding to HHS

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

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined comment Monday on questions on President Obama’s position on widely discredited “ex-gay” reparative therapy aimed at changing gay individuals into being straight.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade, Carney said he hasn’t had any conversations with the president on reparative therapy — or whether Medicaid funding should support the practice — and deferred inquiries to the Department of Health & Human Services.

“I haven’t had any conversation with him and I think that I would steer you to HHS since it involves Medicaid funding,” Carney said. “I don’t really have any comment.”

Pressed further Monday on whether Obama could possibly support reparative therapy if he describes himself as a “fierce advocate” for LGBT Americans, Carney replied, “I haven’t spoken to him about it, so I don’t want to characterize his thoughts on this. The fact is the issue of Medicaid funding is best asked of HHS.”

The Minnesota-based clinic Bachmann & Associates, co-owned by Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, has received significant media attention after Truth Wins Out posted a report earlier this month revealing the clinic engages in reparative therapy.

In a subsequent interview with the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Marcus Bachmann, the spouse of Michele Bachmann and operator of the clinic, said the “ex-gay” practices are used “at the client’s discretion.”

Despite Marcus Bachmann’s assertion that ex-gay therapy is only offered to those who ask for it, the clinic has continued to receive criticism because it’s engaging in a discredited practice that could harm LGBT people.

Further, Bachmann & Associates has been shown to be the recipient of federal funds. According to NBC News, the clinic has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling more than $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005. These payments are in addition to $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees.

It’s unclear whether these federal and state funds are compensating the clinic for reparative therapy or if this money is reimbursing Bachmann & Associates for other practices.

Carney also dodged on whether the president would be open to issuing an executive order spelling out that federal funds won’t be used to discriminate against or harm LGBT Americans.

“I’m not going to negotiate on behalf of the president or venture a guess on what he may or may not be open to,” Carney said. “Again, on the specific issue of Medicaid funding, I’ll send you to HHS.”

In the wake of revelations about Bachmann & Associates, such a directive has been seen as a way for the administration to make clear that the U.S. government won’t subsidize “ex-gay” therapy.

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, said he thinks Carney would discover if he asks Obama about ex-gay therapy that the president doesn’t think being gay is a disease.

“I’m sure if and when he asks the president — he would and has been clear that he doesn’t think being gay is a mental illness,” Socarides said. “So federal funds should certainly not be used to ‘cure’ it.

Socarides reiterated reports that Bachmann & Associates participates in ex-gay therapy and receives federal funds are “another reason we need the executive order prohibiting federal funds being used to discriminate against LGBT Americans.”

Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, also said the Obama administration “should make it clear that no federal funds will be used to subsidize reparative therapy.”

“Moreover, no federal funds should be given to any medical practice that engages in such therapy, even if the funds are allocated for different areas,” Besen added. “Those who offer such therapy are committing consumer fraud by charging clients for a service that does not work.”

A partial transcript of the exchange between the Blade and Carney follows:

Washington Blade: Bachmann & Associates, the Minnesota-based clinic co-owned by Michele Bachmann, has been receiving attention recently because it’s been revealed that it’s engaging in widely discredited reparative therapy aimed at turning gay people into being straight. Furthermore, the clinic has been shown to be the recipient of federal money. It received $137,000 in Medicaid funding since 2005.

What does the president think about ex-gay reparative therapy and should federal funds be used to support this practice?

Jay Carney: Chris, I haven’t had any conversation with him and I think that I would steer you to HHS since it involves Medicaid funding. I don’t really have any comment.

Blade: But it seems strange to me that you can’t say anything about it because our president has described himself as a “fierce advocate” for LGBT Americans. Why can’t you say anything about a practice that is —

Carney: … I haven’t spoken to him about it, so I don’t want to characterize his thoughts on this. The fact is the issue of Medicaid funding is best asked of HHS.

Blade: Just a follow up question. To spell out that this practice shouldn’t be subsidized by the federal government, would the president be open to issuing an executive order mandating that federal funds cannot be used to discriminate or harm LGBT Americans?

Carney: I’m not going to negotiate on behalf of the president or venture a guess on what he may or may not be open to. Again, on the specific issue of Medicaid funding, I’ll send you to HHS.

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The White House

EXCLUSIVE: Jill Biden to host White House Pride celebration

Event to take place on June 26

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First lady Jill Biden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

First lady Jill Biden will host the White House Pride Month celebration on June 26, according to a press release previewed by the Washington Blade.

The party on the South Lawn will also feature a performance by singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Deborah Cox and musical selections by DJ Trifle.

This year’s event comes on Equality Day this year, which honors the anniversaries of three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ Americans: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws, United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which made marriage equality the law of the land.

The White House highlighted some of the “historic action” taken by President Joe Biden to “advance LGBTQ+ equality for the community,” including:

  • Signing into law the landmark Respect for Marriage Act which protects the rights of same-sex and interracial couples;
  • Appointing a historic number of LGBTQI+ and transgender appointees, including the first transgender American to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • Directing all federal agencies to strengthen civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity, resulting in agencies working to strengthen protections in housing, health care, education, employment, the criminal justice system, nutrition programs, and more;
  • Reversing the ban on open service by transgender members of the military;
  • Signing an executive order focused on LGBTQI+ children and families that directs agencies to address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and finalized rule-making that ends disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system and protects against disparities in health care; and
  • President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to enshrine civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federal law.

Last year, the president and the first lady hosted the celebration, which was the largest Pride event ever held at the White House.

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National

65% of Black Americans support Black LGBTQ rights: survey

Results show 40% have LGBTQ family member

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(Logo courtesy of the NBJC)

The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced on June 19 that it commissioned what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind national survey of Black people in the United States in which 65 percent said they consider themselves “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” with 57 percent of the supporters saying they were “churchgoers.”

In a press release describing the findings of the survey, NBJC said it commissioned the research firm HIT Strategies to conduct the survey with support from five other national LGBTQ organizations – the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality, and GLSEN.

“One of the first surveys of its kind, explicitly sampling Black people (1,300 participants) on Black LGBTQ+ people and issues – including an oversampling of Black LGBTQ+ participants to provide a more representative view of this subgroup – it investigates the sentiments, stories, perceptions, and priorities around Black values and progressive policies, to better understand how they impact Black views on Black LGBTQ+ people,” the press release says.

It says the survey found, among other things, that 73 percent of Gen Z respondents, who in 2024 are between the ages of 12 and 27, “agree that the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people.”

According to the press release, it also found that 40 percent of Black people in the survey reported having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+ and 80 percent reported having “some proximity to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, but only 42 percent have some proximity to transgender or gender-expansive people.”

The survey includes these additional findings:

• 86% of Black people nationally report having a feeling of shared fate and connectivity with other Black people in the U.S., but this view doesn’t fully extend to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Around half — 51% — of Black people surveyed feel a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.

• 34% reported the belief that Black LGBTQ+ people “lead with their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Those participants were “significantly less likely to support the Black LGBTQ+ community and most likely to report not feeling a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.”

• 92% of Black people in the survey reported “concern about youth suicide after being shown statistics about the heightened rate among Black LGBTQ+ youth.” Those expressing this concern included 83% of self-reported opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

• “Black people’s support for LGBTQ+ rights can be sorted into three major groups: 29% Active Accomplices, 25% Passive Allies (high potential to be moved), 35% Opponents. Among Opponents, ‘competing priorities’ and ‘religious beliefs’ are the two most significant barriers to supporting Black LGBTQ+ people and issues.”

• 10% of the survey participants identified as LGBTQ. Among those who identified as LGBTQ, 38% identified as bisexual, 33% identified as lesbian or gay, 28% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, and 6% identified as transgender.

• Also, among those who identified as LGBTQ, 89% think the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people, 69% think Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedoms than other Black people, 35% think non-Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedom than other Black people, 54% “feel their vote has a lot of power,” 51% live in urban areas, and 75% rarely or never attend church.

Additional information about the survey from NBJC can be accessed here.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Club Q shooter sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes

Five people killed in 2022 mass shooting in Colo.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Justice Department YouTube screenshot)

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, formerly of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced to 55 concurrent life sentences to run consecutive to 190 years in prison after pleading guilty to 74 hate crimes and firearms charges related to the Nov. 19, 2022, mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ establishment in Colorado Springs.  

According to the plea agreement, Aldrich admitted to murdering five people, injuring 19, and attempting to murder 26 more in a willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated attack at Club Q. According to the plea, Aldrich entered Club Q armed with a loaded, privately manufactured assault weapon, and began firing. Aldrich continued firing until subdued by patrons of the club. As part of the plea, Aldrich admitted that this attack was in part motivated because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of any person.

“Fueled by hate, the defendant targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a place that represented belonging, safety, and acceptance — stealing five people from their loved ones, injuring 19 others, and striking fear across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today’s sentencing makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to protecting the right of every person in this country to live free from the fear that they will be targeted by hate-fueled violence or discrimination based on who they are or who they love. I am grateful to every agent, prosecutor, and staff member across the Department — from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, to the Civil Rights Division, the ATF, and FBI — for their work on this case. The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the safety and civil rights of all people in our country.”

“The 2022 mass shooting at Club Q is one of the most violent crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community in history,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI and our partners have worked tirelessly towards this sentencing, but the true heroes are the patrons of the club who selflessly acted to subdue the defendant. This Pride Month and every month, the FBI stands with the survivors, victims, and families of homophobic violence and hate.”

“ATF will not rest until perpetrators like this defendant are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “I hope today’s life sentence brings at least some peace to the victims and survivors of this senseless, horrific tragedy. That this sentence should come during Pride month reinforces how far we have left to go before all communities, including all LGBTQIA+ communities, are safe here. It also shows how far ATF and all our partners will go to ensure hatred does not win.”

“The defendant’s mass shooting and heinous targeting of Club Q is one of the most devastating assaults on the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history. This sentence cannot reclaim the lives lost or undo the harms inflicted. But we hope that it provides the survivors, the victims’ families, and their communities a small measure of justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our message today should be loud and clear. No one should have to fear for their life or their safety because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The Justice Department will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate hate-fueled, bias-driven attacks.”

“Hate has no place in our country and no place in Colorado” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch for the District of Colorado. “I hope that today’s sentence demonstrates to the victims and those connected to this horrific event that we do not tolerate these heinous acts of violence.”

The FBI Denver Field Office, Colorado Springs Police Department, and ATF investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Connaughty and Bryan Fields for the District of Colorado and, Maura White of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

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