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Is Obama’s marriage position the same as Rick Perry’s?

President’s record is good enough to run on: advocate

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

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to directly address a question Tuesday about President Obama’s continued lack of support for marriage equality and a potential Republican presidential candidate taking on a virtually identical position.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade, Carney declined to directly answer when asked about concerns of misjudging support from the LGBT community heading into the 2012 election by holding off on support for marriage equality as Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has said marriage should be left to the states — echoing Obama’s recently articulated position on the issue.

“I think you know that this president’s record on LGBT issues is exceptional,” Carney said. “He’s very committed to it. He worked very hard for [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’] repeal, and he continues to work hard on these issues. And it’s not an issue of political support; it’s what he believes is the right thing to do and he will continue to do that.”

According to the Associated Press, Perry said last week at a Republican fundraiser that he’s fine with New York’s recent approval of same-sex marriage because he believes in the 10th Amendment right of states to regulate marriage as he remains personally opposed to gay nuptials.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he was quoted as saying. “That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Perry, who’s widely expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, backed a state constitutional amendment in Texas in 2004 that bans same-sex marriage as well as civil unions.

Later during the speech, Perry brandished his conservative leanings by taking pot shots at Obama and criticizing the president’s decision to pull 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the summer of 2012. According to the AP, Perry said Obama should listen to his military commanders “and not his political advisers.”

Perry’s remarks on marriage are similar to the position Obama expressed recently on marriage during a news conference last month when he said the legalization of same-sex marriage was a “good thing.”

“What I’ve seen happen over the last several years, and what happened in New York last week, I think is a good thing because what we saw was the people of New York having a debate talking through these issues,” Obama said. “It was contentious, it was emotional, but ultimately, they made a decision to recognize civil marriage, and I think that’s exactly how things should work.”

Obama added he believes “each community is going to be different, each state is going to be different to work through them.” But when later asked whether his views mean his personally supports same-sex marriage, Obama replied he wasn’t “going to make news on that.”

In 1996, Obama stated in a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times that he supported legalization of same-sex marriage and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages. But the president’s position has changed since that time.

During the presidential campaign, Obama has said he believes marriage should remain between one man and one woman. Starting in October, the president has suggested that his views on marriage could evolve, but he has yet to endorse marriage equality.

Even though he has yet to endorse same-sex marriage, the president has taken steps during his administration to offer protections to same-sex couples. Obama has declared that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and has endorsed the repeal of that law.

One LGBT advocate maintains that even though President Obama has yet to endorse same-sex marriage, his position on LGBT issues is clearly ahead of his competition.

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, said he thinks Obama believes his record on LGBT issues is sufficient for him to run in 2012 — a decision that Socarides said is correct.

“I think the president has decided that the record is good enough to run on, especially considering the competition, and I think he’s right,” Socarides said.

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

Washington Blade: Thanks, Jay. I want to go back to the issue of marriage. Last week Governor Rick Perry of Texas said he believes the issue should be left to the states, and the decision to legalize same-sex marriage in New York is fine with him, even though he personally is opposed to same-sex marriage. That’s virtually the same position as the President’s. Is there any concern that the President may be misjudging support from the LGBT community heading into the election if he’s offering the same position on marriage as a likely Republican presidential candidate?

Jay Carney: Look, Chris, I think you know that this President’s record on LGBT issues is exceptional. He’s very committed to it. He worked very hard for DADT repeal, and he continues to work hard on these issues. And it’s not an issue of political support; it’s what he believes is the right thing to do and he will continue to do that.

UPDATE: According to the Austin American-Statesman, Mark Miner, a Perry spokesperson, said the governor supports a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Such a measure would invalidate New York’s marriage law. Obama opposes amendments that seek to ban same-sex marriage.

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District of Columbia

Trial for man charged with assaulting gay men in D.C. park postponed for third time

Indictment says attacker squirted victims with pepper spray

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Meridian Hill Park (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The trial for a 50-year-old man who was arrested July 14, 2022, on charges that he allegedly assaulted five men he believed to be gay at D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park between 2018 and 2021 was postponed for the third time last month and has now been rescheduled for Aug. 19 of this year.   

The arrest of Michael Thomas Pruden came two weeks after a federal grand jury handed down an indictment on June 29, 2022, charging him with five counts of assault on federal park land, one count of impersonating a federal officer and a hate crime designation alleging that he assaulted four of the men because of their perceived sexual orientation. 

Prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. filed a motion in court on Jan. 10 of this year opposing a request by Pruden’s defense attorney to postpone the most recent prior trial date set for Feb. 26. 

“Following indictment in June 2022, the defendant has delayed the trial in this case several times, including by firing two prior attorneys,” the prosecutors’ motion states. “While the government has not previously objected to any continuance, no further delay is warranted,” the motion says. “This is a straightforward case that should proceed to trial as currently scheduled.”

The indictment against Pruden by a U.S. District Court for D.C. grand jury provides some of the details surrounding the case.

“After nightfall, Meridian Hill Park was informally known in the Washington, D.C., community to be a meeting location for men seeking to engage in consensual sexual encounters with other men,” the indictment says. “This practice is colloquially known as ‘cruising,’” the indictment continues. 

“Michael Thomas Pruden frequented Meridian Hill Park after nightfall and on multiple occasions, including those described below, assaulted men in Meridian Hill Park by approaching them with a flashlight, giving them police-style commands and spraying them with a chemical irritant,” the indictment states. 

Virginia court records show that the D.C. indictment against Pruden was handed down 11 months after a U.S. District Court jury in Alexandria, Va., found him not guilty of a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly pepper spraying and hitting in the head with a large tree branch a man in Daingerfield Island Park in Alexandria, which is also known as a gay cruising site. 

Federal Public Defender A.J. Kramer, who is representing Pruden in the D.C. case, said in his own motion calling for postponing Pruden’s Feb. 26 trial date that he has at least two other unrelated trials coming up soon and what he called voluminous documents recently provided to him by prosecutors made the latest postponement necessary. 

“Firstly, while Mr. Pruden prefers to go to trial as soon as possible, counsel cannot be ready by February 26, 2024,” his motion states. “Given that the case against Mr. Pruden is actually five cases spanning a three-year period, the discovery is extremely voluminous, in excess of 7,000 pages,” he states in his motion. “Due to this as well as counsel’s other pending matters in the coming weeks, counsel is unable to effectively prepare motions and prep for trial under the current timeline.”

By the 7,000 pages of “discovery” documents, Kramer was referring to the requirement that prosecutors turn over to the defense attorney in advance of a trial details of the evidence prosecutors plan to present at a trial. U.S. District Court Judge Jia M. Cobb approved Pruden’s request for the postponement in a Feb. 5 ruling. 

Court records also show that Pruden was released on personal recognizance following his arrest into the custody of his mother, who lives in Norfolk, Va., where he has been staying since his release. Among other things, conditions for his release prohibit him from having any contact with the individuals he is charged with assaulting and require that he always remain inside his mother’s residence from sunset to sunrise. 

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Texas

Abbott tells UN to ‘pound sand’ amid criticism of anti-LGBTQ policies in Texas

Governor signed seven anti-LGBTQ laws last year

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Texas Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs the “Save Women’s Sports Act” on Aug. 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday dismissed news coverage of a letter issued last month to the United Nations that expressed alarm over the “deteriorating human rights situation” for LGBTQ people in the Lone Star State.

Signed by Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law Human Rights Clinic, the letter details how Texas legislators introduced 141 bills targeting the LGBTQ community, passing seven into law.

“The UN can go pound sand,” Abbott wrote in a post on X.

In 2023, the governor signed a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth, a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public universities, a ban on transgender athletes competing in college sports, a law allowing schools to use religious chaplains for counseling services, a ban on “sexually oriented performances” on public property accessible to minors (which targets drag shows), a law allowing schools to restrict LGBTQ books, and a ban on nondiscrimination ordinances by local governments.

The groups argued in their letter that these policies constitute a “systemic discriminatory policy” in violation of international human rights laws, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a multilateral treaty whose tenets are enforced by the UN Human Rights Committee.

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National

WATCH: Washington Post grills transphobic Libs of TikTok creator

Chaya Raichik reaffirmed anti-trans views

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Chaya Raichik, founder of Libs of TikTok is interviewed by Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz.in California. (Screenshot/YouTube The Washington Post)

Grilled on a range of topics during an interview with Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz, Chaya Raichik, spoke about the great replacement theory, the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary in high school student in Oklahoma, why she won’t delete her false accusations about the Uvalde shooter and other mass-shooters, her views on gender, feminism and more.

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