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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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1 Comment

  1. Peter Rosenstein

    September 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I was wondering since Log Cabin is asking many in the LGBT community to support Richard Tisei their gay congressional candidate in Mass. whether any of them are are supporting Sean Patrick Maloney against Nan Hayworth in New York?.

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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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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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Colorado first state to require transgender care as essential health benefit

Biden officials sign off on change for state insurers

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Colorado has become the first state to require transition-related care for transgender people as essential health coverage.

Colorado has become the first state in the country to include transition-related care for transgender people as part of the requirements for essential health care in the state, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

As part of the change, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved the state’s request to provide gender-affirming care in the individual and small group health insurance markets as part of Colorado’s Essential Health Benefit benchmark.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra said in a statement the change is consistent with the Biden administration’s goal of eliminating barriers faced by transgender people in access in health care, including transition-related coverage.

“Health care should be in reach for everyone; by guaranteeing transgender individuals can access recommended care, we’re one step closer to making this a reality,” Becerra said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with Colorado to remove barriers that have historically made it difficult for transgender people to access health coverage and medical care.”

According to HHS, Colorado plan will require insurers to cover a wider range of services for transgender people in addition to benefits already covered, such as eye and lid modifications, face tightening, facial bone remodeling for facial feminization, breast/chest construction and reductions, and laser hair removal.

In addition to these changes, Colorado s also adding EHBs in the benchmark plan to include mental wellness exams and expanded coverage for 14 prescription drug classes, according to the HHS. These changes, per HHS, will take effect beginning on Jan. 1, 2023.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement health care should be “accessible, affordable and delivered equitably to all, regardless of your sexual orientation” (notably leaving out gender identity from that quote).

“To truly break down barriers to care, we must expand access to the full scope of health care, including gender-affirming surgery and other treatments, for people who rely on coverage through Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP and the Marketplaces,” Brooks-LaSure said. “Colorado’s expansion of their essential health benefits to include gender-affirming surgery and other treatments is a model for other states to follow and we invite other states to follow suit.”

According to the Washington Post, Biden administration signed off on the change before officials made the announcement Tuesday in Denver in an event with Gov, Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States.

Katie Keith, a lawyer and co-founder of Out2Enroll, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying despite the change significant issues remains for transgender people in health care.

“There’s been significant progress, but we’ve seen exclusions by some health plans — it got worse under the Trump administration — and that’s why it’s important to see states like Colorado stepping up to fill those gaps,” Keith is quoted as saying.

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