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Democratic platform draft includes marriage equality plank: sources

Unanimous vote happened Sunday

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Rep. Barney Frank confirmed Monday that a marriage equality plank will appear in the Democratic Party platform (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Democratic Party platform drafting committee approved on Sunday language endorsing same-sex marriage in addition to other pro-LGBT positions as part of the Democratic Party platform, according to two sources familiar with the drafting process.

Retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sits on the committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that the 15-member panel unanimously backed the inclusion of a marriage equality plank after a national hearing over the weekend in Minneapolis, in which several witnesses testified in favor of such language.

“I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,” Frank said. “There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.”

Frank emphasized that support for marriage equality is a position that has been established for the Democratic Party, from the president, who endorsed marriage equality in May, to House Democratic lawmakers who voted to reject an amendment reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this month.

A Democratic National Committee staffer, who is familiar with the process and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the language in the platform approved on Sunday not only backs marriage equality, but also rejects DOMA and has positive language with regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The exact wording of the language wasn’t immediately available.

The platform is still in a draft phase. Writers of the platform are now set to come up with close-to-final draft that will be presented before the full platform committee in Detroit from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12. That committee will discuss amendments before presenting the platform at the convention in Charlotte in September.

A number of witnesses were to testify in favor of a marriage equality plank in the platform: Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry; Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign; Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian New Hampshire guardsman with stage-four incurable breast cancer and a plaintiff in Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act;  Michael Macleod-Ball, the American Civil Liberties Union’s chief of staff for the Washington Legislative Office; and Aaron Zellhoefer, a gay delegate to the Democratic National Convention representing the National Stonewall Democrats.

Solomon, whose organization has been leading the effort to include a marriage equality plank in the platform, praised the committee in a statement for the adopting such language.

“We are grateful for the Platform Drafting Committee’s unanimous vote to include the freedom to marry in its draft of the Democratic Party platform,” Solomon said. “As I testified to the Committee on Friday, the Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans. We are proud that the Committee is including language that will ensure the Party is leading the way forward in supporting marriage for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families.”

Zeke Stokes, an SLDN spokesperson, said following Morgan’s testimony that Frank spoke favorably about marriage equality and expressed the sentiment that such language would wind up in the platform.

“He spoke very passionately of his support for marriage equality following the Morgans’ testimony and left a strong impression that he believed it would ultimately be included,” Stokes said.

On Monday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest deferred a question from National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro on the adopted language to the DNC. The DNC didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment.

NOTE: This article has been updated.

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77 Comments

77 Comments

  1. Adam Willis

    July 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Man… just a few years ago I was convinced that the Democratic party was not strong willed enough to add this to the platform. I’m glad I was wrong! Progress is awesome!

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      We have a lot to Thank President Obama for and this is one of his greatest to stand up for all AMERICANS.

    • F--k You

      August 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Screw LBGT Rights, the Majority of Democrats are not for theses ungodly rights and it is being cramed down our throats. This is the final straw that will destroy the Democrat party into splinters.

  2. Mathew Cabral

    July 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Its a sin…STOP IT!

    • Erich Keil

      July 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Whether you believe it is a sin or not is a matter of your personal religion which has no place in legislation. Equal rights for all regardless of race, age, gender, creed, or sexual orientation has every place in legislation, in fact it’s already in the constitution. Whether or not it’s a sin is irrelevant in this case. Sin is a matter of personal belief. It was separated from state a long time ago.

    • Ben

      July 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      AGREED, Thank you Mathew!

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      You believe what you want to and let others do and believe what they want to. Love Is Love and God is Love.

    • Frank Hoffman

      July 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Even if “it” were this thing you call “sin” in you belief system, that is — fortunately for all of us — irrelevant to a secular government routed in separation of such belief systems from legal gevernance of the people. So, feel free not to enter into a same-sex relationship if you don’t wish to — leave the rest of us out of your definition of sin.

    • Johan

      August 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Hey Matt (and Ben, too for that matter),

      You’re on a gay news website. So… either you’re clueless, you’re closeted, or you’re trolling.

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Huh? What are you talking about?

  3. Rebecca Juro

    July 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Big deal. LGBT workplace rights were in the ’08 platform and we saw how that played out politically once the Democrats had control of the White House and both houses of Congress, didn’t we? I don’t know why people are getting all worked up about this. This is just another come on to get rich gays to donate more money, just like Obama coming out as being OK with the idea of same-sex marriage (but not, however, pledging to make any effort to help make it a reality).

    When will LGBT Americans finally understand that they’re being fed yet another line by politicians who only care about their money, not their civil rights?

  4. Peter rosenstein

    July 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Great story Chris and congrats on the Blade being mentioned in the NY Times as having the story first

  5. Wendy Wartes

    July 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Mathew, In your religion it is a sin. Thankfully, in mine, it isn’t. Hopefully all my children will soon be equal in the US constitution and all can follow in their parents’ footsteps and marry the person they love. Legal civil marriage was good for my grandparents, married 69 years, my parents married 65 and me, married 43. I’m so happy it will soon be legal for all in my family. All parents want someone to cherish and support their child, to be there when his parents die, when he’s sick and when celebrating a new success. Why should one of my children not have the same hopes and dreams of this than the others?

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU.. And lets all be one big happy family

    • LEE JOHNSON

      July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      IT IS A SIN, GOD LOVES THE INDIVIDUAL, BUT HATES THE SIN. MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN (ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE).

      • Tom Bell

        July 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

        Wow ! Hey Lee Johnston, that is a real CLEVER AND UNIQUE comeback line: “God created Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve.”

        Gee ! I never heard THAT before. You certainly have quite a wit about you ! Seriously Lee, that might have been somewhat “humorous” back in the 1960s or 1970s, but it’s time to wake up to the 21st Century pal. Your juvenile usage of far-outdated slogans (actually decades old) demonstrate you truly have no relevant grasp of today’s complex issues. Leave the political discussions to the “grown-ups” in the room.

      • Martin and Rod in SJ

        July 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        Actually, Lee, God has no problem with me or my boyfriend. OR what we do in bed together. I know. HE told me so directly. I’ll tell you what He DOES hate, though. He hates people who claim to speak in His name, but only spread hate and fear. “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” John 4:20

      • Chris

        August 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

        You’re either an idiot who doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘separation of church and state” or you’re just an ass. It makes no difference to me, because whether you agree with this addition to the Dem’s party platform or not, it is still being added. So, we win, you lose. Love ALWAYS triumphs over hate. :-)

    • Jerry Ballew

      July 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      The tide is turning. The Brave New World is coming when people will no longer be given the stink eye because of their nature and who they were born to be. From Torquemadan auto da fe’s at the stake to, finally, equality for Gay Families and their chosen children nobody else wanted, to an equal standing with All families. It’s about the children who are chosen to be included into a loving family and not warehoused in a governmental institutional netherland having been tossed unwantedly aside.

  6. Terri

    July 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    No you stop it! And Deming comments like the one above do not reflect the heart of father God. He loves all people, and he did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him would be saved! For all GL BT reading this, I apologize for the stupid and insensitive remarks made to you by those who think they are Christian.

  7. Paula Visnoski

    July 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Moving in the right direction! Please check out this Equality Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu-BAr3ZucM

  8. Jeff

    July 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    This could complicate a number of campaigns, especially down-ballot. Democrats are engaged in tough Senate battles in Missouri, Virginia, Montana and West Virginia, where Democrat candidates may have to distance themselves from the new party stance. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan are home to loads of blue-collar Democrats who still “cling” to a traditional view of marriage. Hard to imagine Sen. Bob Casey championing the new position, for example.

    In fact, the campaign’s battleground states are almost all places where support for gay marriage isn’t yet an electoral winner. I think this is mostly a case of a platform committee being swayed by an ardent, single-issue constituency, as has happened at times to both parties.

    No matter what the Democrats or the media tries to talk about, this campaign is going to be decided on economic issues. The more Democrats try to distract from that, the fewer chances they get to lay out an economic message that will sway voters.

    • Frank Hoffman

      July 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Well, then, the Party will need to do some education and persuasion. It can start with Sen. Casey, who still needs to “evolve” on this issue, especially given that he won, in part, with the gay vote.

  9. Richard Crooks

    July 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Hopefully this will be another step to stop discrimination.

  10. What Next

    July 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    They just shot themselves in the foot. Guess its time to research the other candidates that are running for election. I refuse to support something I completely disapprove of!! I refuse to be guilty by association!…

  11. Jeff4Justice

    July 31, 2012 at 4:50 am

    Thank God I can vote for alternative party candidates who already have LGBT equality in their platforms and are also pro-woman’s rights, pro-racial equality, pro-labor, pro-peace, and pro-environment as apposed to the Democrats who claim to be but in action end up being as awful as the Republicans.

    Let’s not forget that there are still anti-equality and anti-choice Democrats (just as there are some pro-equality and pro-choice Republicans).

    Let’s not forget that Democrats helped get Alito and Roberts into the Supreme Court. (Google: Senate Democrats regret supporting Roberts)

    It’s a wasted vote to vote for the same 2 parties of perpetual war, poverty, debt, and the erosion of civil liberties over and over while expecting different results.

    If you’re an LGBT person expecting open minds on marriage equality yet are unwilling to be open minded voting for alternative party options then that’s hypocritical.

    Online search:

    LGBT Media: Cover Alternative Political Parties
    Insist Obama & Romney Debate 3rd Party Opponents
    Top 3 Dumb Excuses To Not Vote 3rd Party
    6 Easy Steps To End The 2-Party System

    Obama 2012: The Lesser Evil?
    Bush, Obama, Same Old Drama!
    21 reasons why I will not vote for Obama in 2012
    100 Ways Mitt Romney Is Just Like Barack Obama

    As quickly as the Occupy movement arose, an advancement or alternative party movement could arise before November too.

    However, if you like little kids getting blown apart by drone attacks, the kill list, the President can kill anyone attitude, teenage torturing Guantanamo, senseless wars expanded beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, Monsanto taking over the FDA, the EPA raising radiation standards, the dismissal of Occupy, attacks on medical marijuana users (thanks LA City Council Democrats for doing your part), a spike in troops committing suicide, attacks on protestors rights, attacks on internet freedom, voting for Republican nominees to the courts, Wall Street favors, insider training, 50% in poverty, 15 trillion in dent, leaders like “Impeachment off the table” Pelosi, and most college grads not being able to find then PLEASE keep voting for the Democrats and Obama and expecting different results. Hopefully ObamaRomneyWellpointcare will cover your Stockholm syndrome.

    Yeah! Woo-hoo the warmongers are supportive of LGBTs! God bless Ameirca!

    • Misty

      July 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Go somewhere else and troll

  12. Jeff4Justice

    July 31, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Tried to post comments but I guess if you dare speak against the 2party system of war, poverty and attacks on civil rights the Washington Blade will censor you. Otherwise your comment filtering system sux.

    Freedom to marry! Just not freedom to dare speak out against the 2party system.

  13. Dennis Velco

    July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated.

    I posted it to my LGBT Group on LinkedIn to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.

    Link to group >> http://www.linkedin.com/groups/LGBT-Gay-GLBT-Professional-Network-63687/about

    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 15,000+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries. As well as the down stream in my LInkedIn personal connections that reach over 24 million potential live stream viewers on LinkedIn alone.

    The group is strictly professional office friendly dialog, posting and profiles / profile images. I’ve been told by many that it may well be one of the best run / managed groups on LinkedIn.

    You can be as out or private as you like and I provide instructions on how to set those preferences (In the Manager’s Choice area).

    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.

  14. rbockman

    July 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Love lesbians, hate sodomizers

  15. Carol Green

    July 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I’m a retired California teacher. I became incensed the day the Boy Scouts expelled gays from membership. I sat down at my computer contemplating the injustice of the BSA and DOMA. I wanted to help those who have fought bigotry every day of their lives. Soon, words began coupling in my head, flowing through me in twos, and I recorded them. This gift appeared from nowhere. I give the gift to you.

    FREEDOM’S PATHWAY
    Defy discrimination. Boycott bigotry. Denounce dogma. Banish bullies. Cultivate change. Encourage empathy. Discourage desperation. Inspire insight. Celebrate self. Purge pain. Release skeletons. Convey compassion. Nurture narratives. Perpetuate pride. Deactivate disinformation. Revitalize reason. Deconstruct preconceptions. Reconstruct character. Demonstrate determination. Rekindle respect. Disengage guilt. Demand dignity. Mend families. Compel comrades. Rally allies. Command crowds. Mobilize masses. Globalize ideals. Instill initiative. Shift paradigms. Reset standards. Open minds. Envision equality. Challenge convention. Elevate ethics. Revise rules. Trust time. Practice persistence. Pledge patience. Confirm convictions. Consign commitment. Marshal movement. Maintain momentum. Delay gratification. Overcome obstacles. Reform marriage. Desegregate scouting. Welcome awakening. Recognize redemption. Manifest destiny. Liberate love. Embrace enlightenment. Transform tradition. Civilize civilization. Reshape reality.

    You don’t have to be gay to understand the unfairness and humiliation of discrimination and prejudice. Why can’t we be the land of the free? Because, we can. Yes, we can!

    Retired California Teacher, 64, Heterosexual

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      you are a beautiful soul! The world needs more beautiful people like you. It would be a much better place to live….

  16. Bachman

    August 2, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Gays should stay out of the presidential election, gay marriage is not popular, it’s a loser!
    I don’t support it and it will cause the president a chance to win! This is purely selfish, in terms of the rest of us that work hard for the campaign. Republicans know it’s a nail in Obama’s coffin and they’re cheering right now! Barney frank is an Idiot!

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I love how you act like all gays should just stay out of voting. LOL This shows me that you KNOW your days of hatred, bigotry and ignorance are over. Obama is more popular than ever, especially now that the Republican LIES have been discovered. Don’t you people know, that everytime you lie about something, it reveals to the public just how ignorant and stupid you are? There are actually REPUBLICANS who do not support Romney and Ryan. LMAO Republicans are going to lose the presidency AGAIN, and i can’t wait.

  17. Perley J. Thibodeau

    August 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

    A Republican Senate and Congress will be elected to counter act the Democratic President. So, he’ll continue being a lame duck president for the next four years, too!

  18. Diana

    August 9, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    DOMA will be upheld. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The majority of voters passed Yes on Prop 8. The majority always wins in most elections. The Democrats are just showing their stupidity with this issue. The country needs marriage between a man and a woman. Hetrosexual couples need to reproduce and have children. They need future taxpayers in the future. We need jobs instead of Homosexual marriage. With Homosexual marriage there is no reproduction. Therefore it is not necessary. Homosexual marriage is another way of saying to stop production!

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      First of all, the LAST thing this planet needs is more people popping out children. So perhaps you SHOULD stop production for a bit. Secondly, if the ‘productions’ you people are creating, are as dumb and asshatted as YOU, then we DEFINATELY do not need them here. And considering that 84 percent of ALL heterosexual marriages end in divorce within 10 years, i’d say the LAST thing we need is more hetero couples marrying without thinking. also, by your own logic, barren women, and sterile men should not be married. Oh, but wait, i’m sure you’ll have a loop hole for that, won’t you? The REAL institution of Marriage, (which, by the way, was NOT created by christians) was a interlocking of two SOULS. Not based on the interlocking of TWO BODIES. It was a way for one person, to express love and committment to ANOTHER person. Gender was not relevent. I love how all of you dumb ass republicans act like you are the ONLY one who can love. Of course, i cannot expect a dumb republican like you to understand the need for EQUALITY, because you can’t even comprehend treating other people the way you want to be treated. People like you are the REASON this country is in peril in the first place. Ignorant, closed-minded, bigoted, hateful people, who can’t keep their nose out of gay men and women’s bedrooms. YOU PEOPLE ARE OBSESSED WITH GAY SEX MORE THAN GAY PEOPLE!!!!!

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National

Colin Powell, leaving mixed legacy on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ dies at 84

Key figure once opposed gays in military, then backed review

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gay news, Washington Blade, Colin Powell, gay marriage
Colin Powell leaves behind a mixed legacy on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Colin Powell, the first ever Black secretary of state who served in top diplomatic and military roles in U.S. administrations, died Monday of coronavirus at age 84, leaving behind a mixed record on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The world continues to grapple with the pandemic and the public grows increasingly frustrated with its persistence as many remain unvaccinated despite the wide availability of vaccines. Powell was fully vaccinated, according to a statement released upon his death. Powell reportedly suffered from multiple myeloma, a condition that hampers an individual’s ability to combat blood infections.

Rising to the top of the military as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell supported in 1993 Congress moving forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that barred openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military.

During a key moment congressional testimony, Powell and other top military officials were asked whether or not allowing gay people in the military would be compatible with military readiness. Each official, including Powell,” responded “incompatible.” Congress would enact “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that year.

Things changed when President Obama took office 15 years later and advocates for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were eager to claim Powell’s voice among their ranks. After all, Powell was highly respected as a bipartisan voice after having served as secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush and endorsing Obama in the 2008 election.

After the Obama administration in 2010 announced it would conduct a review of the idea of allowing gay people to serve openly in the military, Powell came out in support of that process. Advocates of repeal called that a declaration of reversal, although the statement fell short of a full support for gay people serving openly in the military.

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office, adding, “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

Congress acted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the policy was lifted in 2011. At the time, Powell was widely considered a supporter of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and publicly counted among supporters of repeal, although the Blade couldn’t immediately find any statements from him to that effect.

In 2012, Powell had similar vaguely supportive words on same-sex marriage, saying he had “no problem with it” when asked about the issue.

“As I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones, and they are as stable a family as my family is, and they raise children,” Powell said. “And so I don’t see any reason not to say that they should be able to get married.”

The Blade also couldn’t immediately find any statement from Powell on transgender people serving in the military. After the Obama administration in 2016 lifted decades-old regulations against transgender service, former President Trump issued a ban by tweet the following year. President Biden reversed that ban and allowed transgender people to serve and enlist in the military in his first year in office.

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Texas

Texas House approves anti-trans youth sports bill

HB 25 now heads to state Senate

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GenderCool Project leader and Trans activist Landon Richie (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

Texas House Republicans were able to push through the anti-trans youth sports measure Thursday evening after hours of emotional and at times rancorous debate, passing the bill in a 76-54 vote along party lines.

Under the provisions of Texas House Bill 25, all trans student athletes in grades K-12 will be prohibited from competing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The Texas Tribune reported that the University Interscholastic League, which governs school sports in Texas, already requires that an athlete’s gender be determined by the sex listed on their birth certificate. Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 has said the bill would simply “codify” existing UIL rules.

However, UIL recognizes any legally modified birth certificates. That policy could accommodate someone who may have had their birth certificate changed to match their gender identity, which can sometimes be an arduous process.

HB 25 would not allow recognition of these legally modified birth certificates unless changes were made because of a clerical error. It’s not clear though how it will be determined if a birth certificate has been legally modified or not. According to the UIL, the process for checking student birth certificates is left up to schools and districts, not the UIL the Tribune reported.

“To say that tonight’s passage of HB 25 is devastating is an understatement. For the past 10 grueling, exhausting, and deeply traumatic months, trans youth have been forced to debate their very existence—only to be met by the deaf ears and averted eyes of our state’s leaders,” Landon Richie, a GenderCool Project leader, University of Houston student and Transactivist told the Washington Blade after the vote.

“Make no mistake: This bill will not only have detrimental impacts on trans youth, who already suffer immense levels of harassment and bullying in schools, but also on cisgender youth who don’t conform to Texas’s idea of ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To trans kids everywhere: you belong, you are loved, you are valued, you are deserving of dignity, respect, care and the ability to live freely as your true and authentic selves, no matter where you are. We will never stop fighting for trans lives and a future where trans kids are unequivocally and unwaveringly celebrated for who they are,” Richie said.

“The cruelty of this bill is breathtaking, and the legislators who are pushing it forward are doing irreparable harm to our state. Texas is a place where people value freedom and respect for diversity. This bill is a betrayal of those cherished values, and future generations will look back on this moment in disbelief that elected officials supported such an absurd and hateful measure,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Blade. “The families of these kids deserve better, and the burden is now on the rest of us to do everything in our power to stop this dangerous bill now,” he added.

During the debate on the measure, state Rep. James Talarico, (D-Round Rock), a former middle school teacher, began his remarks by apologizing to the trans kids and families who have gone to the Capitol time and time again this year. He tells the chamber he speaks now as a legislator, and educator, and a Christian.

He quoted Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 who said “if one girl wins a game, it’s worth it.” He says he has a different moral yardstick. “If one trans kid dies for a trophy, this bill is grotesque.”

He ended speaking to his “fellow believers” in the chamber. “The worst part in these hearings have been in hearing the Bible used against trans kids to support these bills. Even tonight, ‘God’s law’ was used to present an amendment.” He then quoted the first two lines of the Bible, where God is referred to with two different Hebrew words, one masculine/one feminine. “God is non-binary.” He then prevented an interruption in the chamber and continued telling trans kids that he loves them.

Fellow Democratic state Rep. Jessica González, (D-Dallas County), vice-chair of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus asked the chamber how many trans Texas kids they are willing to hurt. She reminded her fellow representatives that cisgender women and girls will also be hurt by the bill. She shared a personal story about being outed in high school by a friend, having her locker, home, and car vandalized and losing all of her friends. “Kids are cruel.”

González told lawmakers that her brother encouraged her to try out for soccer, and she was bullied with comments like “shouldn’t she be trying out for the boys’ team.” She went from feeling a bit accepted to being an outsider again. She then reflected on carrying those feelings into adulthood and said that this bill will have long-term affects on trans kids. She asked legislators to listen to the stories of the trans kids who have bravely testified, saying kids will contemplate suicide or complete suicide.

Representative Diego Bernal, (D-San Antonio), told the chamber that some representatives can’t wrap their heads around knowing that there is no problem but there is *real* harm to trans kids, and for whatever reason, that’s not enough it seems to stop moving these bills.

He said that he has heard “if they already have mental health issues and suicide ideation, this can’t make it worse” and “if the debate is harming them, let’s just vote.” The he breaks down the Texas statute’s definition of bullying, telling lawmakers, “The bullying statute doesn’t have an intent requirement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean to cause them harm. We are bullying these students. Know that by law … our own definitions and our own words, we are. And we don’t have to.”

“Texas lawmakers voted today to deliberately discriminate against transgender children. Excluding transgender students from participating in sports with their peers violates the Constitution and puts already vulnerable youth at serious risk of mental and emotional harm,” Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas said in a statement to the Blade.

“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat. It is indefensible that legislators would force transgender youth and their families to travel to Austin to defend their own humanity, then blatantly ignore hours of testimony about the real damage this bill causes. Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support—they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty,” she added.

The statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Texas in a tweet after the vote said; ” We will not stop fighting to protect transgender children.” Then added “We’ll continue to educate lawmakers—replacing misinformation with real stories—and demand the statewide and federal nondiscrimination protections we need to prevent further harms.”

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National

LGBTQ Youth web resource gone after Texas GOP candidate complained

Removal of the LGBTQ youth resource webpage appeared to be strictly political the Houston Chronicle reported

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Anti-LGBTQ Republican Don Huffines (Screenshot via Twitter)

AUSTIN – A late August video tweet from a wealthy Dallas-based real estate development company executive and conservative Republican gubernatorial challenger, blamed fellow Republican incumbent Texas Governor Greg Abbott for endorsing an LGBTQ+ agenda, because of the existence of a state online resource webpage for LGBTQ youth.

Within hours it was pulled down by the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, (DFPS) the agency responsible for the page.

In an article published Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported that Don Huffines claimed tax dollars were being used to “advocate for transgender ideology.” Huffines also went on to say that DFPS was publishing “disturbing information about our youth.”

“They’re talking about helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, non-heterosexual behavior. I mean really? This is Texas. These are not Texas values. These are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” 

A message on the website states that the previous content is now under review.

According to the Chronicle, the website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page as they prepare for life after foster care. It was replaced by a message that states, “The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current.”

LGBTQ+ activists and advocates are furious. Among the resources on the page for LGBTQ+ youth were critical information including for housing and information for suicide prevention and crisis assistance.

GenderCool Youth Leader, Trans rights activist and University of Houston student Landon Richie told the Blade Tuesday;

“This is deplorable. To Governor Abbott, LGBTQ+ youth are nothing more than pawns on a political chessboard. Despite his cries of protection and fairness in justification of this session’s unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ+ — especially trans — youth, it has never truly been about any of those things; it has always been about his power.

Now more than ever, LGBTQ+ youth deserve safety, protection, support, and affirmation from the state — this year alone, the Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support, as a result of this legislative session. LGBTQ+ youth deserve better than to be treated like they are as easily discardable as a webpage,” Richie said.

Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights reacted telling the Blade in an emailed statement:

“Helping LGBTQ youth and their families prevent suicide is not a partisan issue, and any elected official who seeks to make it one has lost any sense of shame. This action by Governor Abbott is appalling and will needlessly harm vulnerable children and families who urgently need support.”

Removal of the page appeared to be strictly political the Chronicle reported.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, told the Chronicle that the review “is still ongoing” but declined to answer questions seeking more detail about why the website was removed or whether it had anything to do with Huffines.

But Family and Protective Services communications obtained through a public records request show that agency employees discussed removing the “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” page in response to Huffines’ tweet, shortly before taking it offline,” the paper wrote.

More telling was the events leading the page’s removal said the paper:

Thirteen minutes after Huffines’ video went up, media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed a link to Crimmins, the agency’s communications director, under the subject line “Don Huffines video accusing Gov/DFPS of pushing liberal transgender agenda.”

FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” Gonzales wrote.

Crimmins then queried Darrell Azar, DFPS’ web and creative services director, about who oversees the page. “Darrell — please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” he wrote.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth weighed in on the Chronicle’s reporting in an emailed statement to the Blade.

LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system — and those who have been in foster care report significantly higher rates of attempting suicide. It is unconscionable that the Texas state government would actively remove vital suicide prevention resources from its website for the sole purpose of appeasing a rival politician. Mental health and suicide prevention are nonpartisan,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs. “This story sends a terrible message to LGBTQ youth in Texas and will only contribute to the internalization of stigma and shame. We should be expanding access to support services for this group, not erasing what resources LGBTQ youth have to reach out for help.” 

The Chronicle reported that the deleted webpage also included links to the Texas chapters of PFLAG, a nationwide LGBTQ organization; a “national youth talk line” to discuss gender and sexual identity and various other issues; and LGBTQ legal services.

Huffines said the page also linked to a website operated by the Human Rights Campaign, a politically active LGBTQ advocacy group that he called “the Planned Parenthood of LGBT issues.”

Data on Texas:

  • Between January 1 and August 30, 2021, The Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts (calls, texts, and chats) from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support. More than 3,900 of those crisis contacts (36%) came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
  • Crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas seeking support have grown over 150% when compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • While this volume of crisis contacts can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill), a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that:
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.
    • Some transgender and nonbinary youth have expressed fear over losing access to sports that provide important acceptance in their lives.

Additional Research: 

  • The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered. 

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