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Romney touts work against marriage equality as Mass. guv

‘We fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage’



Mitt Romney speaking before attendees at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mitt Romney speaking before attendees at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney touted his work against marriage equality as Massachusetts governor and pledged to continue his opposition to same-sex marriage as president in a speech Friday before a conservative conference in D.C.

Speaking before attendees at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, Romney said the Massachusetts state supreme court “inexplicably” found a right to same-sex marriage in 2003. The candidate suggested finding such right would be contrary to the intentions of Founder John Adams, the author of the state constitution.

Romney said he pushed for a stay in that decision and called for an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage, which he said lost “by only one vote in the legislature.”

The candidate also touted his resurrection of a 1913 law prohibiting out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts. That law was later repealed under Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

“I successfully prohibited out-of-state couples from coming to our state to get married, and then going home,” Romney said. “On my watch, we fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.”

Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, said Romney is distorting what happened by saying the marriage amendment lost “by only one vote” because a supermajority of lawmakers in the legislature voted to preserve marriage equality and against bringing marriage to the ballot.

It takes the votes of two consecutive legislatures to place a citizen-initiated measure on the ballot. The Romney-backed marriage amendment passed the first time around in January 2007, but failed the second time later that year.

In June 2007, 151 legislators opposed the amendment and 45 supported it, while four legislators were absent or abstained from voting, falling more than one vote short of the 50 votes required to advance the measure to the November 2008 ballot.

“Abstentions don’t count as a ‘yes’; I think it’s fair to say [Romney is] misstating the facts,” Suffredini said. “Opponents of marriage equality and their public face, Gov. Romney, failed to garner even 25 percent support among lawmakers to send a constitutional amendment to repeal marriage equality to the ballot.”

Romney’s remarks generated significance from the applause that packed the hall at the Marriott Woodley Park hotel. The candidate then said he’d continue this opposition to same-sex marriage, pledging to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and back a Federal Marriage Amendment.

“When I am president, I will defend the Defense of Marriage Act and I will fight for an amendment to our Constitution that defines marriage as relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said, eliciting even greater applause.

The candidate is among the GOP candidates who’s signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage committing himself to defend DOMA in court, support a U.S. constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and establish a commission on “religious liberty” to investigate harassment of same-sex marriage opponents.

Romney added during his speech that he would rollback regulations that President Obama put in place that he said attack religious liberty. While he didn’t mention any LGBT initiative, such measures could include the order mandating hospitals grant visitation rights to same-sex couples.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, said his organization is “deeply disappointed” in Romney’s speech.

“Instead of simply saying that he opposed gay marriage, Romney instead chose to play to the ugliest and most divisive impulses in this country,” LaSalvia said. “If he thinks this is the way to appeal to Tea Party conservatives who have reservations about his candidacy, he is dead wrong.”

LaSalvia, who’s personally endorsed Romney, accused the candidate of giving in to a culture war, which he said is the tactic of progressive activists.

“The left wants a culture war, because they can’t defend this president’s record of failure on the economy,” LaSalvia said. “Conservatives shouldn’t give them the fight they want – and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney did today.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said he spoke with Romney after the speech when the candidate came down from the stage to shake hands with people in the front row of the audience.

“I told Gov. Romney that he ‘gave a solid speech with [the] exception of defending DOMA,'” Cooper said. “He responded ‘I know we disagree on this.’ My response before parting was a reminder that “we will continue to to work to defeat DOMA.”

Watch the video here (via Think Progress)

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  1. Barrie Daneker

    February 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Did he also mention that when he ran for Gov. he support gay marriage..NO because he’s a flip flopper!

  2. Robyn Ochs

    February 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Romney’s statement about the vote is inaccurate (a lie?). The proposed marriage amendment needed 50 votes (of 200 total) to move to the ballot, but got only 45. On June 14, 2007, 45 legislators voted for the measure while 151 voted against.

    I am increasingly tired of this Republican pile on against LGBT people. How could ANY self-respecting LGBT person or supporter vote for Romney or Ginrich or Santorum?

  3. Ray

    February 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Oh Mitt, it’s too bad you’re such an idiot cuz you’re quite handsome and i would love to have sex with you. I saw the way you looked at me. Holla!

    PS: I hope you get the republican vote for Presidency because that will confirm another 4yrs for OBAMA!!! YAAAAY!

  4. I'm Just Sayin'

    February 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Poor LCR. They’ve got 200 days to find a date to the “prom” and their prospects get grimmer by the day.

  5. Inis Magrath

    February 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    More Romney LIES! What he said isn’t even true.

    He said, ‘And I successfully prohibited out-of-state couples from coming to our state to get married and then going home.’

    False! He wasn’t successful, unless you count success as merely temporary. Very shortly after Romney invoked an old Massachusetts law to keep out-of-staters from marrying in state, that law was repealed by the legislature. By the way, that law was originally intended to keep mixed-race couples from the South from coming up to Massachusetts to marry. And Romney embraced it. Nice, huh?

    But back to the point, that law was rescinded within the year after Romney invoked it and so this bold claim by Romney is nothing other than a lie!

  6. L. A..

    February 12, 2012 at 12:06 am

    More of the same. Boring! Lies, more lies and more and more and more big fat lies!

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Federal Government

Veterans can now identify as transgender, nonbinary on their VA medical records

About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity



Graphic via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Wednesday that his department added the options of transgender male, transgender female, nonbinary and other, when veterans select their gender, in medical records and healthcare documentation.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

The statement also noted that the change allows health-care providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

McDonough speaking at a Pride Month event last June at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, emphasized his support for Trans and LGBQ+ vets.

McDonough said that he pledged to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination and take steps to expand access to care for transgender veterans.

With this commitment McDonough said he seeks to allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” McDonough said. “We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he added.

In a survey of transgender veterans and transgender active-duty service members, transgender veterans reported several mental health diagnoses, including depression (65%), anxiety (41%), PTSD (31%), and substance abuse (16%).  In a study examining VHA patient records from 2000 to 2011 (before the 2011 VHA directive), the rate of suicide-related events among veterans with a gender identity disorder (GID) diagnoses was found to be 20 times higher than that of the general VHA patient population.

McDonough acknowledged the VA research pointing out that in addition to psychological distress, trans veterans also may experience prejudice and stigma. About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community,” McDonough said. “But they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination.

“At VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing,” he added.

All VA facilities have had a local LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator responsible for helping those veterans connect to available services since 2016.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” McDonough said. He added that the VA would also change the name of the Veterans Health Administration’s LGBT health program to the LGBTQ+ Health Program to reflect greater inclusiveness.

Much of the push for better access to healthcare and for recognition of the trans community is a result of the polices of President Joe Biden, who reversed the ban on Trans military enacted under former President Trump, expanding protections for transgender students and revived anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender Americans.

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Prominent LGBTQ+ activist found dead in Florida landfill

Diaz-Johnston was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz & he led the fight for marriage equality



Photo courtesy of Don Diaz Johnston

Police in Florida’s capital city confirmed that the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, who had been reported missing was found in a Jackson County landfill Saturday morning.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive Jan. 3 in Tallahassee, more than an hour from where his body was found, according to a missing person notice released by police. Detectives are investigating his death as a homicide, a police spokesperson said.

Diaz-Johnston, was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. As an LGBTQ advocate he led the fight for marriage equality, he and his husband were plaintiffs in an historic 2014 lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade County.

ABC News reported at the time that a South Florida circuit court judge sided with Diaz-Johnston and five couples suing the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Florida dropped its ban on same-sex marriage in 2015.

His husband wrote in a poignant Facebook post; “There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can’t stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge. He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” Equality Florida said adding, “Our deepest condolences to Don and Jorge’s extended family.”

Detectives urge anyone who may have information to call 850-891-4200, or make an anonymous tip to Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

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Bill prohibiting ‘gay panic defense’ clears New Hampshire House

New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of ‘gay panic’ as a defense



New Hampshire State House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Legislation prohibiting defendants accused of manslaughter from using the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation as a defense, which had died in committee during the 2021 regular session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was reintroduced this session and passed with a 223-118 vote last week.

House Bill 238, stirred up controversary from opponents who claimed that state statues already covered murder and manslaughter. During a Criminal Justice committee hearing last Spring, Rep. Dick Marston, a Manchester Republican, voiced opposition, saying that the laws already cover murder and manslaughter and that “there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–‘”

Marston was cut off by committee chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican, who gaveled him down and rebuked him for the derogatory language the Concord-Monitor reported

Later, the committee Republicans blocked an effort to move the bill out of committee alleging it needed more work and was not necessary because a jury could already strike down a similar attempted defense. The bill was then stalled in the committee, effectively killing it from being pushed further in last year’s session.

As the measure now heads to the state Senate, New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of the ‘gay panic’ as a defense.

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