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Gay New Yorker in tight race with GOP incumbent

Maloney seeks to oust Hayworth; race a ‘tossup’

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U.S. House candidate Sean Patrick Maloney

U.S. House candidate Sean Patrick Maloney (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sean Patrick Maloney has ambitious goals for someone in a tight race seeking his first term in Congress. His priorities upon taking office would be “getting Congress working for people who need it working in their lives.”

“I think the most important thing right now is that too many voices aren’t being heard in Congress — the middle class, working people and people who care about equality, care about a future where we all count, we all work together,” Maloney said.

He’s seeking to unseat freshman Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) to represent New York’s 18th congressional district.

Maloney, who if elected would be the first openly gay member of Congress from New York, touted his previous work in Washington. He was a senior West Wing adviser in the Clinton administration and was first deputy secretary for former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

“I know my way around Washington, and I’ve spent years working on different types of policies and partnerships in people in state government, people in local government, with the private sector,” Maloney said. “And so, I think I bring a set of relationships to the job that is unique for a freshman member, and a degree of experience in how Washington works when it’s working well.”

While he acknowledged the importance of having a Democratic majority in the U.S. House that “cares about LGBT people,” Maloney said he sees an opportunity for passage of pro-LGBT legislation even if Republicans remain in power — provided what he called the “extreme wing” of the party isn’t in control.

Maloney said New York could serve as an example because marriage equality legislation was passed in a Republican-controlled Senate under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The House candidate took credit for helping draft the New York marriage equality bill under the Spitzer administration, but said he wasn’t involved in the process of moving the law through in 2011.

“New York is the example,” Maloney said. “New York is where Democrats and Republicans have figured out how to work together on issues of LGBT equality. We don’t — look, you’ll never get everybody, but I do believe the day is coming when moderate voices, people who care about equality within the Republican Party will begin working with those of us who have been fighting for years on these issues.”

National LGBT groups are backing Maloney in pursuit of his U.S. House seat, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said his organization is working to help Maloney win.

“Sean Patrick Maloney is a wonderful candidate and will be a tremendous leader in the House,” Cole-Schwartz said. “HRC is committed to helping him win and we’re encouraging our members to support his campaign through our candidate fundraising tool at www.hrc.org/candidates.”

Maloney said he supports pro-LGBT legislation that Congress has yet to pass — including the Uniting American Families Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — in addition to repeal of the Defense of the Marriage Act.

“I think a lot of us hope that the Supreme Court will establish as it did in the area of interracial marriage that denying equal marriage rights to same-sex couple is a violation of the federal Constitution as applied to the states, and so you’ll get a national constitution grounding for marriage,” Maloney said. “But Congress certainly has a role to play. We absolutely should repeal DOMA.”

Maloney also called on President Obama to revisit the idea of issuing an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating in the workplace against LGBT people, saying the White House announcement in April that the order wouldn’t happen at this time “was a mistake.”

“I was disappointed that the White House made that decision,” Maloney said. “And I say that as someone who gives the president a great deal of credit for the position he took on marriage, which was historic, and for putting marriage equality front and center at the Democratic National Convention.”

Maloney lives in Cold Springs, N.Y. He has been with his partner, Randy Florke, a Realtor, since 1992 and they have three children: Jesús, Daley, and Essie. They also have homes in Sullivan County and New York City.

Rep. Nan Hayworth attends the 2012 Log Cabin annual dinner

Rep. Nan Hayworth attends the 2012 Log Cabin annual dinner (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The contest to represent New York’s 18th congressional district is tight. Polls in recent weeks have showed Maloney running even with Hayworth, or slightly behind. A Public Policy Polling survey published Sept. 21 found Maloney and Hayworth both receiving 43 percent of support, while 14 percent were undecided.

Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report, ranked the race as a “pure toss-up” because even though being an incumbent would give her an advantage, Hayworth won her seat in a good Republican year, and the district is generally Democratic and would probably see more Democratic turnout in the presidential election.

“I think it’s going to be a really close battle,” Taylor said. “Her first ad against Maloney hits him on how he just moved into the district. I think that could be an effective strategy, but also, this is not a new thing for New York — people first living in the city and moving out to the suburban areas.”

During the Blade interview, Maloney criticized Hayworth, calling her “one of the most extreme members of Congress” and saying she’s “out of step with her district” for supporting legislation put forward by House Republican leaders.

“She wants to end Medicare and give massive tax cuts to multi-millionaires like herself,” Maloney said. “She wants to defund Planned Parenthood. She wants to deny women access to contraception. … On issue after issue that is important to LGBT equality, that is important to the middle class that is important to women’s rights and women’s health, she has been an extreme conservative.”

But Hayworth has a fairly good record on LGBT issues during her first term in Congress. A member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Hayworth voted against three amendments on the House floor that reaffirmed the Defense of Marriage Act. She’s also a co-sponsor of ENDA and the Domestic Partner Tax Parity Act, which would end the tax penalty by individuals who receive health insurance for their partners from their employers.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, praised Hayworth’s action on LGBT issues upon taking her House seat. The organization as of Tuesday hasn’t endorsed Hayworth.

“When Nan Hayworth came to Congress as a freshman in 2011, she quickly distinguished herself by becoming Deputy Majority Whip and joining the bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus,” Cooper said. “Her active presence among her peers in the House and within the House Republican leadership is critical to advancing equality, restoring fiscal discipline and maintaining a majority in the Congress.”

Will Hayworth at 2012 Log Cabin annual dinner

Will Hayworth (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hayworth has a gay son, Will Hayworth, who lives in D.C. According to his website, he studied economics and computer science at Bard College and has experience as a research intern covering monetary policy at libertarian think-tank called the Cato Institute. He identifies as “a registered Republican with very, very libertarian leanings.”

But Maloney was unimpressed with Hayworth’s actions and called on her to articulate her position on marriage equality — which he said 60 percent of his district supports — and say whether she wants to repeal DOMA.

“It’s real simple,” Maloney said. “All she has to do is say she supports marriage equality and repeal of DOMA. She won’t. So, talk is cheap, procedural votes are cheap. When the rubber meets the road, she is not our friend. She is terrible on LGBT equality and I’ve been working on these issues for 20 years of my life. So, I would invite her to — and you should ask her — does she support marriage equality? Will she support the repeal of DOMA? She won’t. I will. That’s the choice.”

The Blade attempted to speak with the Republican lawmaker during the Log Cabin’s “Spirit of Lincoln” awards dinner in D.C. on Sept. 20 — which she attended with her son Will Hayworth — about her position on marriage equality and DOMA, but she refused to take questions. Requests to comment for this article weren’t returned by Hayworth’s campaign or her office.

Maloney said he’s aware Hayworth has a gay son. Asked whether that heightens the need for her to address her positions on LGBT issues, Maloney replied, “All that we have is her record, and she will not say that she supports marriage equality and she will not support the repeal of DOMA. Why she believes that, what she really believes, you’ll have to ask her. I’m not qualified to speak to anything other than what her record is as a member of Congress. And her record is terrible for the most important issue for our community: She is not our friend on marriage equality.”

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Mississippi

Art used to spotlight people of color lost to AIDS in the South

National AIDS Memorial, Southern AIDS Coalition created Change the Pattern exhibit

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The National AIDS Memorial and Southern AIDS Coalition have announced a new initiative to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS among communities of color in the South. (Photo courtesy of the National AIDS Memorial)

The National AIDS Memorial has joined forces with the Southern AIDS Coalition to stage a series of art exhibitions and educational forums to honor Black and Brown people in the South who have been lost to HIV/AIDS.

The initiative, titled Change the Pattern, began in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday with curated quilt exhibitions, displays, educational forums, advocacy, storytelling and quilt-making, according to a press release from the National AIDS Memorial. A $2.4 million grant from the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc., funded Change the Pattern.

More than 500 hand-stitched quilt panels from the area were featured in what the National AIDS Memorial says is “the largest display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt ever” in Mississippi.

“By creating an empowering message and safe spaces for conversation, we can uplift, inspire and make progress toward ending the HIV epidemic, challenge cultural stigmas and continue the legacy of advocacy that the quilt represents,” said National AIDS Memorial CEO John Cunningham in the release. 

Change the Pattern was announced in honor of Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day during the Southern AIDS Coalition’s annual Saving Ourselves Symposium that took place in August. 

The conference, which was heavily attended by LGBTQ activists from the South, featured 100 quilt panels, and attendees participated in quilt-making workshops to make new quilt panels representing their loved ones.

Interested LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the South were invited to apply for funding to support local quilt-making workshops in their communities so as to ensure that the legacies of Black and Brown people are captured through newly-sewn panels on the quilt through the Memorial’s Call My Name program, according to the National AIDS Memorial press release. 

The application process opened on Sept. 15 with up to 35 eligible organizations receiving as much as $5,000 to support hosting local workshops. 

The first major Change the Pattern Quilt was founded 35 years ago as a visual representation of the need to end stigma and provide equitable resources to communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS, according to Southern AIDS Coalition Executive Director Dafina Ward.

“Change the Pattern is a call to action and change in the South,” said Ward. “Quilt-making has such a deep cultural connection in the Black community and in the South. The sharing and telling of these powerful stories through the quilt, coupled with advocacy and open dialogue, can help end HIV-related stigma and bring the stories of those we’ve lost to light.”

As the Change the Pattern initiative occurs, conversations about how to handle health epidemics within LGBTQ communities of color have become national topics, especially with the prevalence of monkeypox cases amongst Black gay men.

Despite earlier panic about the disease, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a report released on Wednesday said that individuals who were vaccinated against the disease were less likely to be affected over the summer compared to those who weren’t. 

The effectiveness and duration of immunity after a single dose, however, is not known, and few individuals in the current outbreak have completed the recommended two-dose series, according to the report. 

The most recent CDC data reports that 25,509 monkeypox cases have thus far been confirmed in the U.S. Only one death has been reported.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Doctor, transgender spouse indicted for passing information to Russia

Jamie Lee Henry first active-duty Army officer to come out as trans

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Jamie Lee Henry and their spouse Anna Gabrielian (Photos from social media)

A federal grand jury on Wednesday handed down an indictment of a Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist and her spouse, a doctor and major in the U.S. Army, with conspiracy and for the disclosure of individually identifiable health information related to their efforts to assist Russia in connection with the conflict in Ukraine.

The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland in a press release stated Anna Gabrielian, 36, and her spouse, Jamie Lee Henry, 39, both of Rockville, Md., both of whom had secret clearances, were attempting to provide medical information about members of the military to the Russian government.

Gabrielian and Henry met with an individual they believed to be associated with the Russian government, but who was, in fact, an Federal Bureau of Investigation Undercover Agent.

Court documents indicate Gabrielian told the FBI agent posing as a Russian operative that she had previously reached out to the Russian Embassy by email and phone, offering Russia her and her spouses’ assistance.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Gabrielian told the FBI agent that, although Henry knew of Gabrielian’s interaction with the Russian Embassy, she never mentioned Henry’s name to the Russian Embassy.

In the narrative released by the U.S. Attorney’s office, on Aug. 17, 2022, Gabrielian met with the FBI at a hotel in Baltimore. During that meeting, Gabrielian told the FBI she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide any assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail. 

She proposed potential cover stories for her meeting with the “Russians” and stressed the need for “plausible deniability” in the event she was confronted by American authorities. Gabrielian also told the FBI that, as a military officer, Henry was currently a more important source for Russia than she was, because they had more helpful information, including how the U.S. military establishes an army hospital in war conditions and information about previous training provided by the U.S. military to Ukrainian military personnel. 

Henry identifies as a “transgender military physician” on their Twitter account.

Henry received public attention in 2015 after becoming the first known active-duty Army officer to come out as trans.

Henry was at one point a member of SPARTA, the nation’s largest nonprofit representing actively-serving trans U.S. servicemembers. A spokesperson for SPARTA, in an emailed statement commenting on the announcement of the arrest and indictment of Henry and their spouse told the Washington Blade:

“Transgender people are as diverse as the societies to which they belong. One’s gender identity neither increases nor decreases a propensity towards alleged criminal activity.”

As stated in the indictment, Gabrielian is an anesthesiologist and worked at Medical Institution 1 in Baltimore.  

Henry, a major in the U.S. Army who held a secret-level security clearance, is Gabrielian’s spouse and a doctor. During the time of the alleged conspiracy, Henry worked as a staff internist stationed at Fort Bragg, the home of the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the Womack Army Medical Center.

Gabrielian was scheduled to have initial appearance at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brendan A. Hurson. Henry is also expected to have an initial appearance today, although a time has not yet been set.

Full statement from SPARTA:

“SPARTA, a non-profit advocacy organization representing transgender Service members in the United States, is saddened to learn of the arrest and indictment of Jamie Lee Henry, an officer in the U.S. Army and a medical doctor.

SPARTA has long advocated for the inclusion and total equity for transgender persons throughout the United States uniformed services. Today, thousands are serving honorably and authentically at home stations worldwide.

The actions alleged in the indictment do not reflect Henry’s identity as transgender. Their alleged actions are those of an individual and should not be taken as a representation of transgender people broadly or transgender members of the military specifically.

All people in the United States are entitled to the same rights, including due process and the presumption of innocence in this case. SPARTA does not condone any actions alleged in the indictment and expects the process to play out fairly and equitably as it would for anyone accused of a crime.”

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The unvaccinated are 14 times more likely to contract monkeypox: health officials

Guidance updated to allow shots in places other than forearm

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U.S. health officials are celebrating data finding the monkeypox contraction is lower among people who are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials are celebrating preliminary data on the vaccine used in the monkeypox outbreak, which has led them to conclude eligible persons who didn’t get a shot were 14 times more likely to become infected than those who are vaccinated.

The new data, as described by health officials on the White House monkeypox task force during a call with reporters on Wednesday, comes as the overall number of new cases of monkeypox is in sharp decline, although considerable racial disparities persist in the remaining cases as Black and Latino people are overrepresented in the numbers.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, said during the conference call the preliminary data — collected from 32 states between July 2022 and September 2022 — provides an early shapshot of the effectiveness of the vaccine and cause for optimism on the path forward.

“These new data provide us with a level of cautious optimism that the vaccine is working as intended,” Walkensky said. “These early findings and similar results from studies and other countries suggest even one dose of the monkeypox vaccine offers at least some initial protection against infection.”

Walensky during the conference call admitted the data is incomplete in numerous ways. For example, the data is based on information on individuals who have obtained only the first shot as opposed to both shots in the two-shot vaccination process. (The data showing positive results from individuals who have only one shot contradicts previous warnings from the same U.S. health officials that one shot of the monkeypox vaccine was insufficient.)

The data also makes no distinction between individuals who have obtained a shot through subcutaneous injection, a more traditional approach to vaccine administration, as opposed to intradermal injection, which is a newer approach adopted in the U.S. guidance amid the early vaccine shortage. Skeptics of the new approach have said data is limited to support the idea the intradermal injection is effective, particularly among immunocompromised people with HIV who have been at higher risk of contracting monkeypox.

Not enumerated as part of the data were underlying numbers leading health officials to conclude the unvaccinated were 14 times more likely to contract monkeypox as opposed to those with a shot, as well as any limiting principle on the definition of eligible persons. Also unclear from the data is whether individual practices in sexual behavior had any role in the results.

Despite the positive data on the monkeypox vaccine based on one shot, U.S. health officials warned during the conference call the two-shot approach to vaccine administration is consistent with their guidance and more effective.

Demetre Daskalakis, the Biden administration’s face of LGBTQ outreach for monkeypox and deputy coordinator for the White House monkeypox task force, made the case that for individuals at risk obtaining a second dose is “really important.”

“So we see some response after the first [shot] in the laboratory, but the really high responses that we want to really get — that you know, level 10 forcefield as opposed to the level five forcefield — doesn’t happen until the second dose,” Daskalakis said. “So the important message is this just tells us to keep on trucking forward because we need that second dose at arms that people haven’t gotten the first should start their series of two vaccines.”

Also during the call, health officials said they would be expanding opportunities for vaccines as pre exposure prophylaxis, as opposed to practices in certain regions granting vaccines in their limited supply to individuals who meet certain criteria or have had risk of exposure.

The Centers of Disease Control & Prevention, officials said, is also updating its guidance to allow injection of the vaccines in places other than a patient’s arm.

Daskalakis said fear of stigma about getting a noticeable shot in the forearm after obtaining a monkeypox vaccine was a key part of the decision to issue the new guidance on implementation.

“Many jurisdictions and advocates have told us that some people declined vaccine to monkeypox because of the stigma associated with the visible but temporary mark often left on their forearm,” Daskalakis said. “New guidance from CDC allows people who don’t want to risk a visible mark on their forearm to offer a vaccine on their skin by their shoulder or their upper back. Those are areas more frequently covered by clothes.”

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