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Axelrod: Biden’s views on marriage ‘consistent’ with Obama’s

Obama campaign emphasizes distinction between POTUS and Romney



photo courtesy Obama campaign

The Obama campaign maintains the views Vice President Joe Biden expressed on marriage equality were “entirely consistent” with the president position’s on the issue because both Obama and Biden believe married gay couples shouldn’t be denied the rights enjoyed by straight couples.

During a conference call with reporters Monday, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said in response to a question from Reuters’ Jeff Mason that Biden and Obama were in line on marriage equality — even though Obama has yet to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“I think that they were entirely consistent with the president’s position, which is that couples who are married — whether gay or heterosexual couples — are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties,” Axelrod said. “That’s why the president and the administration has stood down on the DOMA court case and believe that the law is unconstitutional, and when people are married, we ought to recognize those marriages and import the rights to which they’re entitled.”

Axelrod continued that those views were “the essence” of what the Biden was saying in his remarks on marriage on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which lit up the Internet and were characterized as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.

“That was the essence of the policy basis of what he was saying, and that’s where the federal government comes into play,” Axelrod said.

The views Axelrod expressed on the conference call are similar to what he said via his Twitter account on Sunday: “What VP said — that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights — is precisely POTUS’s position.”

Additionally, Axelrod that Obama’s position on marriage is different from the position of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who backs a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country and contributed $10,000 in 2008 to the campaign in favor California’s Proposition 8.

“There couldn’t be a starker contrast on this issue than with Gov. Romney, who has funded efforts to roll back marriage laws in California and other places, who believes that we need a constitutional amendment banning the rights of gay couples to marry, and would take us backward, not forward,” Axelrod said. “So, there’s a very clear distinction in this race.”

Axelrod didn’t address Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks a few hours earlier on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in which the secretary endorsed same-sex marriage, but the question posed to him didn’t address the secretary’s comments.

On Sunday, Biden said he’s “absolutely comfortable” with the idea of married gay couples having the “same exact rights” as straight couples, which was reported by many media outlets and bloggers as an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Biden’s office has said his comments weren’t anything new and the vice president is evolving on the issue like President Obama.

The president himself has yet to articulate support for same-sex marriage. In October 2010, Obama said in response to a question from AMERICAblog’s Joe Sudbay that he could evolve to support marriage equality. However, the president has yet to announce support for marriage equality.

Vice President Joe Biden (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Those who have interpreted Biden’s remarks as an endorsement of same-sex marriage are calling on the administration not to rollback his words and for Obama to take on a similar position.

Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of external affairs at the Center for American Progress, was among those saying the favorable remarks on marriage equality shouldn’t be taken back.

“We commend Vice President Biden for supporting marriage equality and call on President Obama to do the same,” Stachelberg said. “The campaign shouldn’t force Biden’s comment back into the closet, but should instead embrace the growing popular support for the freedom to marry.”

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  1. I'm Just Sayin'

    May 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    So here’s Log Cabin Republican’s jab on FB at Obama over Axelrod’s walk back: “Today the press are grilling Barack Obama’s spokesman on his untenable and contradictory positions on marriage equality. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. President.”

    So exactly what does LCR want here? Do they want the President to endorse marriage equality so Romney looks even more intolerant than he already does having taken the NOM pledge, or are they trying to distract from Romney’s indefensible pander on marriage equality? Either way, one has to wonder why LCR wouldn’t just keep quiet seeing how they haven’t had a dog in this hunt since forever.

  2. Floyd D. Flood

    May 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Did President Obama send Joe Biden out to give the Gay community hope that his policy toward Gay marriage will change? If he comes out FOR Gay marriage now, he’ll lose a lot of support from African-American because they are still largely against gay marriage. But since Pres. Obama hasn’t come out himself in favor of Gay marriage, the LBGT community should take a look at Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2012. Equality of marriage is not a political game. It is a policy that affects the lives of real people and their rights! Gov. Johnson has consistently and strongly supported Gay marriage. Gay people should vote for people who will protect our rights.

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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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