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Carney mum on effort to repeal N.H. marriage

Romney, Perry support undoing state’s law

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was cautious on Thursday when asked about President Obama’s position on legislative repeal of the same-sex marriage law in New Hampshire.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade on the expected vote to repeal the law, Carney said he hasn’t spoken with Obama on the issue.

“I honestly haven’t spoken to him about that state issue, so I would have to take the question and see if there’s anything I can get back to you,” Carney said.

Pressed further on whether Obama’s position that states should decide the marriage issue themselves means that he would support the legislature’s decision to undo the law, Carney declined to elaborate.

“Again, that’s an ‘if-if’ question and I haven’t had the conversation with him or with any of the senior staff about it,” Carney said. “So let me take that and see if we can get a response to you.”

The White House didn’t immediately response to a follow-up e-mail request from the Blade to provide an answer.

President Obama has yet to endorse same-sex marriage, but has for more than a year suggested he could evolve to support marriage rights for gay couples. At the time that the New York Legislature was debating same-sex marriage legislation, Obama said during an LGBT fundraiser in New York City that states should decide for themselves the best way to handle the marriage issue.

But in 1996, Obama expressed support for same-sex marriage. In a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times, Obama wrote, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibits such marriages.”

The New Hampshire Legislature is likely to vote sometime this month on repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law, which Gov. John Lynch (D) signed in 2009. Lynch has said he’d veto repeal legislation should it come to his desk, but the Republican supermajority in the legislature may have enough to override his veto.

Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has become an issue for Republican presidential candidates seeking their party’s nomination. Texas Gov. Rick Perry praised efforts to repeal the marriage law during a banquet appearance in October for the conservative advocacy group known as Cornerstone Action. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he favors repeal of New Hampshire’s law when Bob Garon, a gay Vietnam veteran, confronted the candidate on his views.

“I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law,” Romney said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s my view.”

But each of the candidates who’ve expressed support for a Federal Marriage Amendment — Perry, Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum — have implicitly backed the repeal of the New Hampshire law because such a measure would prohibit same-sex marriage throughout the country.

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

Washington Blade: Thanks, Jay. The New Hampshire Legislature this month is expected to vote on a bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage law there. The Democratic governor has said he’d veto any such measure that came to his desk, but the Republicans have a super majority in the legislature and they could have the votes to override this veto. Both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have said they support the repeal of the marriage law there, but what does the president hope is the outcome of this vote?

Carney: Chris, I honestly haven’t spoken to him about that state issue, so I would have to take the question and see if there’s anything I can get back to you.

Blade: The president has said that he — states should decide how to best address the marriage issue themselves. If the legislature decides to repeal that marriage law will he support that decision?

Carney: Again, that’s an “if-if” question and I haven’t had the conversation with him or with any of the senior staff about it. So let me take that and see if we can get a response to you.

Watch the video here (via Think Progress)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrPabW2C6fM&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fthinkprogress.org%2Flgbt%2F2012%2F01%2F05%2F398797%2Fwhite-house-doesnt-know-obamas-position-on-new-hampshires-marriage-equality-law%2F&feature=player_embedded

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State Department

Blinken: PEPFAR ‘shows us what American diplomacy can do’

Secretary of state spoke at World AIDS Day event in D.C. on Friday

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a World AIDS Day event at the Hay-Adams Hotel in D.C. on Dec. 2, 2022. (Screen capture via U.S. Department of State YouTube)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday noted the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has saved more than 25 million lives since its launch in 2003.

Blinken, who spoke at the Business Council for International Understanding’s World AIDS Day event at the Hay-Adams Hotel in D.C., said the more than $100 billion the U.S. has earmarked for PEPFAR over the last two decades has funded 70,000 new community health clinics, 3,000 new laboratories and the hiring of 340,000 health care workers.

“Entire public health systems formed, with over a dozen countries which have either reached their HIV-treatment goals or managed control of the virus altogether,” said Blinken.

Then-President George W. Bush in 2003 signed legislation that created PEPFAR. California Democrat Barbara Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief White House medical advisor who is retiring at the end of this month, are among those who played a key role in PEPFAR’s creation.

“PEPFAR has benefitted from bipartisan support, as we’ve heard, across four presidencies, across ten Congresses,” said Blinken. “It’s resulted in an investment of more than $100 billion to the global HIV/AIDS response. This is the largest commitment by one country ever to address a single disease.”

Lee and Fauci were among those who attended the event alongside U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator John Nkengasong; Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine; Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House Coronavirus Response Director, and HIV and Hepatitis Policy Institute Executive Director Carl Schmid.

Blinken in his speech noted “the systems put in place by PEPFAR have become an integral part of the health security architecture of countries around the world.”

Blinken also said PEPFAR has bolstered responses to COVID-19, Ebola and the avian flu.

“We are continuing to build on PEPFAR’s many successes to create a stronger global health security architecture to prevent, to detect, to respond to future health emergencies. Doctor Fauci, you once said that PEPFAR ‘shows what the goodwill of a nation can do,’ and you were right,” said Blinken. “PEPFAR also shows us what American diplomacy can do: Bring together governments, bring together the public and private sectors, communities to tackle challenges that none of us can actually effectively deal with alone and that creates and has created a healthier, safer and ultimately more secure world.” 

Five-year PEPFAR strategy to target LGBTQ people

Blinken acknowledged there is still “very serious work still required for us to end the global HIV health epidemic by 2030,” noting HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately impact LGBTQ and intersex people and other marginalized groups.

“Too many countries still have fragile and insufficiently resourced public health systems, which makes it difficult to offer services beyond HIV/AIDS treatments, and that undercuts our capacity to respond to emerging threats,” he said.

Blinken noted the U.S. on Thursday announced a new PEPFAR strategy that will help “fill those gaps” over the next five years. It includes the following:

• Targeted programming to help reduce inequalities among LGBTQ and intersex people, women and girls and other marginalized groups

• Partnerships with local organizations to help reach “hard-to-reach” communities.

• Economic development and increased access to financial markets to allow countries to manufacture their own antiretroviral drugs, tests and personal protective gear to give them “the capacity to meet their own challenges so that they’re not dependent on anyone else.”

“This latest PEPFAR strategy will keep making advancements like that possible so that millions more people can live healthy lives and live lives to their full potential,” said Blinken. 

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Congress

Hakeem Jeffries makes history with appointment to lead House Democrats

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, an LGBTQ ally, will become the first Black lawmaker of either party to serve in the top spot of either of the two chambers of Congress

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) (Photo public domain)

With his election on Wednesday to take over as House Democratic minority leader next year, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) became the first-ever Black lawmaker from either party who will serve in that role in either of the two chambers of Congress.

House Democrats also chose, for the second and third-highest ranking positions, Reps. Katherine Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Caif.). All ran unopposed and rather than by formal ballots were elected by voice vote for unanimous consent.

The moves signaled broad consensus among House Democrats in their decision to send the new slate of lawmakers, young and diverse with some progressive bona fides, to serve in the party’s senior leadership positions.

The three lawmakers are all members of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and longtime allies of the community. Jeffries, as chair of the House Democratic Caucus, introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House this summer.

The Caucus declined to comment on the House Democratic leadership elections.

When Aguilar succeeds Jeffries in that role next year, it will be the highest-ranking position in House leadership ever held by a Latino member. Clark, meanwhile, will become the second woman to serve as Democratic House Whip after Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the current House Speaker.

Pelosi announced on Nov. 18 her plans to step down from House Democratic leadership after the next Congress is seated. She made history in 2001 as the first woman elected to the second highest-ranking position in the chamber, and then again in 2007 when she took the top slot, becoming the first woman Speaker of the House.

Following her announcement, Pelosi was celebrated for her many legislative accomplishments at the top of her party’s caucus, where she served for two decades under four presidents. A Washington Post column called Pelosi the “best speaker in U.S. history.”

Considering that Pelosi also presided over some of the biggest legislative milestones in the modern LGBTQ rights movement, such as the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Jeffries has a high bar to clear when he’s handed the torch in January.

In addition to his leadership on the Respect for Marriage Act, Jeffries has been a major advocate in Congress for other pro-LGBTQ pieces of legislation like the Equality Act and, in 2014, the Hate Crime Reporting Act.

Jeffries has been a vocal champion of measures to make the U.S. Capitol more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming people – such as by calling for single-occupancy gender-neutral restrooms on the Hill and rules that would adopt gender-neutral language in the House.

He has also spoken out forcefully against anti-LGBTQ hate from some members of the House Republican caucus, such as the dangerous rhetoric from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), who has repeatedly tried to link queer people to child sexual abuse.

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National

Homeland Security says more attacks against LGBTQ people are possible

Gunman killed five people at ClubQ in Colo. on Nov. 19

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(Public domain photo)

The Department of Homeland Security issued a terror threat bulletin Wednesday warning that domestic extremists have posted online praise for the fatal shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado earlier this month. and have called for copycat attacks.

In its bulletin, Homeland Security officials noted that several recent attacks, plots and threats of violence demonstrate the continued dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment in the U.S:

“Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration. Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado — which remains under investigation — we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker. Similarly, some domestic violent extremists in the United States praised an October 2022 shooting at a LGBTQI+ bar in Slovakia and encouraged additional violence. The attacker in Slovakia posted a manifesto online espousing white supremacist beliefs and his admiration for prior attackers, including some within the United States,” Homeland Security warned.

Homeland Security also asked that Americans report potential threats:

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