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DNC 2012: LGBT delegates greeted by Jill Biden, Rep. Frank

Second Caucus meeting focuses on ‘energizing base’



Al Franken, gay news, Washington Blade

Minn. Sen. Al Franken addresses the LGBT delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Democratic National Convention’s LGBT Caucus was courted by high-level Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and Democratic Party luminaries on Thursday in its second of two meetings during the week of the convention.

DNC LGBT Caucus, gay news, Washington Blade

DNC’s LGBT Caucus was courted by high-level Obama administration officials Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; Jim Messina, chair of the Obama re-election campaign; Hilda Solis, the U.S. Secretary of Labor; and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic Party, urged caucus members to help energize the Obama base — voters who support the president but who may need some prodding and reminders to turn out to the polls in November.

“I want you to know how much Joe and I and Barack and Michelle appreciate all that you are doing for this campaign all across this country,” Biden told the more than 500 LGBT delegates, alternate delegates and convention committee members who make up the LGBT Caucus.

“So much is at stake in this election. You know that, and especially for the LGBT community,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep moving forward on gay rights so that we can continue the progress we’ve made.”

She added, “We have the first president and vice president in history to affirm support for gay marriage. Joe and Barack believe that no matter who you love everyone should have the same rights in this country.”

Messina, who served as White House Chief of Staff for Operations from 2009 to 2011 before heading the Obama re-election campaign, noted that he and gay White House aide Brian Bond worked closely together to push for passage of a federal hate crime law that includes gays and transgender people and for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military.

“I’m so proud to be part of this effort,” he said. “You have a president who stands for justice, fairness and equality.”

In a gesture that drew laughter and applause, Messina told LGBT Caucus members, “I just need two things from you in the next 61 days — all your time and all your money.”

Hilda Solis, gay news, Washington Blade

Sec. of Labor Hilda Solis. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Solis disputed claims by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that the U.S. economy remains stalled, saying large numbers of private sector jobs have been created during the president’s tenure in office.

Similar to Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services who spoke to the LGBT Caucus on Tuesday, Solis listed what she called the Obama administration’s unprecedented number of executive branch initiatives on LGBT rights, including a ban on employment discrimination against transgender people in the federal workforce.

Like Sebelius, she said a Romney presidency would likely roll back most if not all of those advances.

Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who spoke before the full convention later in the day on Thursday, created a stir among leaders of the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans when he repeated to LGBT Caucus members a remark he made about Log Cabin in a radio interview earlier in the day with gay talk show host Michelangelo Signorile.

In the interview, Frank criticized Log Cabin for continuing to support Republican members of Congress who oppose LGBT rights legislation.

“For 20 years now I’ve heard Log Cabins say they were going to make Republicans better, but they’ve only gotten worse. I now realize why they call themselves Log Cabin: Their role model is Uncle Tom.”

Log Cabin President R. Clarke Cooper issued a statement denouncing Frank for hurling “bile” at gay Republicans in an effort to “demonize them.” Cooper noted that Log Cabin filed a lawsuit seeking to have “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” overturned by a court on constitutional grounds. He said the group worked with Republican members of Congress to line up Republican votes that made it possible to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“As far as Log Cabin Republicans are concerned, it’s a badge of honor to be attacked by a partisan hack like Barney Frank,” Cooper said.

Frank couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Cooper’s statement.

During his remarks before the LGBT Caucus, Frank said he understood and respected Log Cabin members who say they support the Republican Party and many of its leaders because they agree with them on non-LGBT issues like national defense and economic policy.

But Frank said the Republican Party’s overall positions on LGBT issues have gotten worse over recent years and he was troubled that Log Cabin members appear to be rationalizing assertions that the party’s stance on LGBT issues is improving.

Cory Booker, gay news, Washington Blade

Newark Mayor Cory Booker. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Other speakers at the Thursday’s LGBT Caucus meeting included Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker; Delaware Gov. Jack Markell; U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats from Minnesota; and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Doug Wilson.

Wilson, who is gay, invited LGBT caucus members who are veterans or members of the military to join him on the stage where he spoke. More than 30 caucus members walked on stage, drawing a loud, prolonged applause from the audience.

He then told of his experience meeting U.S. troops at Fort Hood, an Army base, in an effort to determine how active duty military members would react if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were repealed.

According to Wilson, the head of the base arranged for him to meet and speak with five solders assigned to an Army tank, where some military officials believed it would be difficult for an out gay soldier to work “in close quarters” with straight soldiers.

Wilson said he asked the four men assigned to the tank how they would react if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed and they find out one of their compatriots assigned to the tank is gay.

“The first one said my brother is gay. And the second one said my cousin is gay,” Wilson told the caucus meeting. “The third one said I have all kinds of gay friends from high school and it doesn’t matter to me. And the fifth one said if this tank is burning I want someone to pull me out of there and I don’t care if they’re gay or straight.”

Wilson said stories like that were what convinced most U.S. military leaders and a majority of members of Congress to pass legislation repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He credited President Obama with setting in motion the chain of events that eventually led to the repeal.


State Department

State Department hosts intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs



The State Department last week hosted a group of intersex activists from around the world. (Courtesy photo)

The State Department last week hosted five intersex activists from around the world.

Kimberly Zieselman, a prominent intersex activist who advises Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, brought the activists to D.C.

• Morgan Carpenter, co-founder and executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia

• Natasha Jiménez, an intersex activist from Costa Rica who is the general coordinator of Mulabi, the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights

• Julius Kaggwa, founder of the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development Uganda

• Magda Rakita, co-founder and executive director of Fujdacja Interakcja in Poland and co-founder of Interconnected UK

• Esan Regmi, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign for Change in Nepal.

Special U.S. Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine are among the officials with whom the activists met.

Zieselman told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 the activists offered State Department officials an “intersex 101” overview during a virtual briefing.

More than 60 Save the Children staffers from around the world participated in another virtual briefing. Zieselman noted the activists also met with Stern, U.N. and Organization of American States officials, funders and NGO representatives while in D.C.

“The people we met were genuinely interested,” Rakita told the Blade.

Stern in an exclusive statement to the Blade said “the visiting intersex activists clearly had an impact here at State, sharing their expertise and lived experience highlighting the urgency to end human rights abuses, including those involving harmful medical practices against intersex persons globally.” Andrew Gleason, senior director for gender equality and social justice at Save the Children US, in a LinkedIn post he wrote after attending his organization’s meeting with the activists echoed Stern.

“There are many learnings to recount from today’s discussion, but one thing is clear, this is unequivocally a child rights issue, and one that demands attention and action at the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights, reproductive rights and justice, disability justice and more,” wrote Gleason. “Gratitude to the panelists for sharing such poignant testimonies and providing insights into what organizations like ours can do to contribute to the broader intersex movement; and thank you to Kimberly for your leadership and bringing this group together.”

The activists’ trip to D.C. coincided with efforts to end so-called sex “normalization” surgeries on intersex children.

Greek lawmakers in July passed a law that bans such procedures on children under 15 unless they offer their consent or a court allows them to happen. Doctors who violate the statute face fines and prison.

Germany Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Spain have also enacted laws that seek to protect intersex youth. 

A law that grants equal rights and legal recognition to intersex people in Kenya took effect in July 2022. Lawmakers in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year passed the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023.

Intersex Human Rights Australia notes the law implements “mechanisms to regulate non-urgent medical care to encourage child participation in medical decisions, establish groundbreaking oversight mechanisms and provide transparency on medical practices and decision making.” It further points out the statute “will criminalize some deferrable procedures that permanently alter the sex characteristics of children” and provides “funding for necessary psychosocial supports for families and children.”

“It’s amazing,” Carpenter told the Blade when discussing the law and resistance to it. “It’s not perfect. There was some big gaps, but physicians are resisting every step of the way.”

The State Department in April 2022 began to issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with an “X” gender marker. Zzyym in October 2021 received the first gender-neutral American passport.

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Federal Government

Federal government prepares for looming shutdown

White House warns of ‘damaging impacts across the country’



U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

However remote they were on Monday, odds of avoiding a government shutdown were narrowed by Thursday evening as House Republicans continued debate over their hyper-partisan appropriations bills that stand no chance of passage by the Upper Chamber.

As lawmakers in the Democratic controlled Senate forged ahead with a bipartisan stop-gap spending measure that House GOP leadership had vowed to reject, the federal government began bracing for operations to grind to a halt on October 1.

This would mean hundreds of thousands of workers are furloughed as more than 100 agencies from the State Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation roll out contingency plans maintained by the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management sent out memos to all agencies instructing them to ready for a shutdown on Sunday.

Before 1980, operations would continue per usual in cases where Congress failed to break an impasse over spending, as lapses in funding tended to last only a few days before lawmakers brokered a deal.

Since then, the government has shut down more than a dozen times and the duration has tended to become longer and longer.

“Across the United States, local news outlets are reporting on the harmful impacts a potential government shutdown would have on American families,” the White House wrote in a release on Thursday featuring a roundup of reporting on how the public might be affected.

“With just days left before the end of the fiscal year, extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country,” the White House said.

The nature and extent of that damage will depend on factors including how long the impasse lasts, but the Biden-Harris administration has warned of some consequences the American public is likely to face.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, warned: “There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation.”

Amid the shortage of air traffic controllers and efforts to modernize aviation technology to mitigate flight delays and cancellations, a government shutdown threatens to “make air travel even worse,” as Business Insider wrote in a headline Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, meanwhile, have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over the consequences for the global fight against AIDS amid the looming expiration, on Oct. 1, of funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

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Federal Government

QAnon follower pleads guilty to threatening member of Congress

Conspiracy movement claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world



QAnon banner at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va., in 2020. (YouTube screenshot from Anthony Crider)

A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.

Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County, for calling the Houston district office of an unnamed member of Congress on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.

The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.

According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9:04 p.m. Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, U.S. House of Representatives (Victim One/”V1″), who is from Houston. The call was received by V1’s office.

In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?” 

Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, N.M., and it was believed that Fox was the user of cell phone account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.

Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms and corporations. 

Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.

Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now trans. Fox discussed his military service with the
U.S. Air Force, “Q the Plan to Save the World,” and how God communicates using

Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
threaten V1.

According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.

The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them. 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by trans people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.

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