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Log Cabin issues ‘qualified endorsement’ of Romney

Move comes despite GOP support for Federal Marriage Amendment

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R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Log Cabin Republicans announced on Tuesday morning that it’s giving a “qualified endorsement” to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after months of speculation over whether the gay GOP group would back the candidate despite his anti-gay views.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the organization, announced that Log Cabin’s board had elected to endorse Romney in a statement because supporting the candidate is the right decision “for our members, our community and for the nation as a whole.”

“Despite our disagreement with Gov. Romney on the issue of marriage, on balance it is clear that in today’s economic climate, concern for the future of our country must be the highest priority,” Cooper said. “We are Republicans, and we agree with Gov. Romney’s vision for America in which success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity. On issues of  particular concern to the LGBT community, we believe Governor Romney will move the ball forward compared to past Republican presidents. No matter who is in the White House, it is crucial our community always has a credible voice speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans will be that voice to President Mitt Romney.”

Log Cabin also sent a statement to supporters via email saying the organization is giving Romney a “qualified endorsement” and the organization will “be most active” in supporting previously endorsed House and Senate candidates — such as Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Rep. Nan Haywoth (R-N.Y.), a member of LGBT Equality Caucus — as opposed to getting more involved in the presidential election.

Cooper told the Washington Blade that Log Cabin’s 15-member board made the decision to endorse Romney earlier this month by a vote of 14-1. Cooper declined to identify the dissenting member of the board and wouldn’t immediately offer the exact date for when the board made the decision.

The endorsement for Romney comes even though Romney has signed an agreement with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to back a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate the harassment of opponents of same-sex marriage. In 2004, Log Cabin withheld the endorsement from then-President George W. Bush largely because of his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Log Cabin’s email to supporters explains the decision to endorse Romney despite his decision to sign this pledge and back a Federal Marriage Amendment, saying “2012 is not 2004. The Federal Marriage Amendment has been voted on twice, and each time has failed with bipartisan opposition.”

“While even the suggestion of enshrining discrimination in our nation’s most precious document is deeply offensive, there is a significant difference between a valid threat and an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency,” the email states. “In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement from an otherwise qualified candidate, particularly given the gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake.”

Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokesperson, thanked Log Cabin for its endorsement in response to an email inquiry from the Washington Blade.

“Gov. Romney is pleased to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans and looks forward to working together for the future of our country,” Saul said.

Jamie Citron, the Obama campaign’s LGBT vote director, rebuked the gay GOP group for endorsing Romney based on the candidate’s previously articulated anti-gay positions.

“If the Log Cabin Republicans are interested in supporting a candidate who would have left ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ in place and has committed to enshrining discrimination into the constitution, then it is an endorsement that is best suited for Mitt Romney,” Citron said.

Individuals working to re-elect Obama to the White House expressed displeasure over the decision. Among them was Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, who slammed Log Cabin for endorsing Romney and called the organization a sell-out to the LGBT community.

“The Log Cabin Republicans have proven once and for all that they are not an organization aligned with the LGBT movement,” Davis said. “They are a Republican front group bumbling their way into fooling LGBT voters that it’s OK to support a party that would legislate us back into the closet.”

Davis added that the endorsement decision was a “disgrace” and motivating factors other than Romney’s record were in play.

“This is politics at its worst — when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals,” Davis said. “There is little doubt that Clarke Coooper’s position on the RNC finance committee played a major role in this decision. Of course, so did their blinding fear of GOProud nipping at their heels.”

Previously, Cooper told the Washington Blade that Log Cabin was seeking clarity on Romney’s position on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act before making an endorsement decision and was seeking to meet with the Romney campaign about the issue. Romney supported the legislation as a U.S. Senate candidate in 1994, but has since backed away from that support and hasn’t talked about the bill during the 2012 presidential campaign. In the email to supporters explaining the endorsement, Cooper said on the issue of workplace discrimination, “we are persuaded that we can work with a Romney administration to achieve a desirable outcome.”

The “qualified” endorsement is akin to the qualified endorsement for the candidate that gay former U.S. House Rep. Jim Kolbe gave to Romney in an interview with the Washington Blade during the Republican National Convention based on the candidate’s business background despite his opposition to same-sex marriage.

R. Clarke Cooper, Mitt Romney, Jim Kolbe, Republican Party, Election 2012, Log Cabin Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (center) with Log Cabin’s R. Clarke Cooper (left) and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (photo courtesy Log Cabin)

The statement also includes a photo of Cooper with Romney and Kolbe. The file name for the photo denotes a meeting between Romney and Log Cabin on Oct. 17 in Leesburg, Va. It’s not immediately clear whether the photo was from a meeting in which Romney’s position on ENDA came up.

In the statement announcing the endorsement, Log Cabin also provided words from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who endorsed Romney during the primary, and Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who’s leading a lawsuit against California’s Proposition 8, but helped the Romney campaign with debate prep.

Ros-Lehtinen, a supporter of marriage equality who’s known as being one of the most pro-LGBT Republican lawmakers in Congress, praised the endorsement.

“Our nation needs common sense solutions to fixing our economy and creating private sector jobs and Gov. Romney will provide us with the strong leadership we need at this critical time,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Gov. Romney understands that businesses need less government regulation and lower taxes. Romney is the right man for our time. I am pleased that Log Cabin Republicans is endorsing Gov. Romney. I know that all of us together will fight for equality for all Americans, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Olson emphasized that both he and Log Cabin support Romney for president and marriage equality at the same time.

“Like the Log Cabin Republicans, I am proud to support Governor Romney for president, and I am proud to be an advocate for the freedom to marry,” Cooper said. “This endorsement speaks to Log Cabin’s principled belief in equality for all Americans, and the pragmatic recognition that our nation is in need of new leadership. Getting our fiscal house in order is more than an economic imperative – it’s a moral imperative. Gay or straight, Americans deserve a president who will secure a future for our children that doesn’t leave them buried in debt.”

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Stephen Clark

    October 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    There is no such thing as a "qualified endorsement." Voting is a yes or no choice. Cooper can't have his tax cut AND his gay rights, no matter how much double-speak he issues.

    LCR has made its choice. It has chosen party first, gay a very distant second–just like Barney Frank. As far as I'm concerned, there is no longer any meaningful difference between LCR and GOProud. I don't regard either as a credible voice of the gay community.

    I wish them luck in their new gay-bashing partnership with Tony Perkins.

  2. Diane McLaughlin

    October 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Dumbasses

  3. Tom

    October 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I think it’s fairer to say that their decision simply represents the 30 percent of our community who vote Republican in national elections. We’re not a monolithic group.

  4. Barrie Daneker

    October 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Just goes to show you that the LCR are fucking clueless. I suggest they all take a weekend in MA and talk to people there about what Romney not only did to the LGBT community but that he was never a bi-partisan in the least bit during his term as governor. The Dems overrode 800 of his vetoes. So LCR’s are going to suffer again because as they put it money is more important than civilization and civil rights!

  5. Michelle Seyner

    October 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    They are endorsing a proven liar. I'd say that's a sketchy deal!

  6. Adrian Salsgiver

    October 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    The GOP is a criminal organization. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is an agent of the New World Order Conspiracy.

    http://youtu.be/iv4llVSNL9c

  7. Willie Braxton

    October 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    8 years of Romney/Ryan would set LGBT people back at least 20 years since at least 2 Surpreme Court Justices would retire in that time.

  8. Mykelb

    October 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Chris Barron is just another KAPO living in a MONEY BUBBLE.

  9. Sanford Reece

    October 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    IT would be so nice if you "Log Cabin Republicans" or for that matte, r ALL REPUBLICANS would "get it"… It's NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY AND JOBS…."IT'S" about making the world a better place and moving MANKIND and AMERICA physically, mentally and spiritually FORWARD.
    Republicans seem to MOSTLY to care about MONEY and MAKING SURE THEY are taken care of. All you REPUBLICANS seem to care about is yourselves and YOUR BELIEFS. I, very seldom, hear a Republican voice that seems to give a rats…… about the earth, others people health care, how America is viewed by the rest of the world or ALL human rites. It's ALL ABOUT MONEY TO YOU PEOPLE.

    This quote comes from someone who is gay, needs healthcare and has been denied time and time again, grew up very poor, lives pay check to pay check, pays taxes and doesn't mind paying more if it makes the lives of others better, believes in GOD but doesn't judge or fault those who do not, loves children but doesn't want to have any. Donates to many causes. Recycles, has worked hard all his life, has over come many health and mental issues and TURELY CARES about people other than myself. Even people I don't know. EVEN REPUBLICANS.. I just wish you would get your heads out of your own ass's!

  10. Sanford Reece

    October 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    IT would be so nice if you "Log Cabin Republicans" or for that matter, ALL REPUBLICANS would "get it"… It's NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY AND JOBS…."IT'S" about making the world a better place and moving MANKIND and AMERICA physically, mentally and spiritually FORWARD.
    Republicans seem to MOSTLY to care about MONEY and MAKING SURE THEY are taken care of. All you REPUBLICANS seem to care about is yourselves and YOUR BELIEFS. I, very seldom, hear a Republican voice that seems to give a rats…… about the earth, others people health care, how America is viewed by the rest of the world or ALL human rites. It's ALL ABOUT MONEY TO YOU PEOPLE.

    This quote comes from someone who is gay, needs healthcare and has been denied time and time again, grew up very poor, lives pay check to pay check, pays taxes and doesn't mind paying more if it makes the lives of others better, believes in GOD but doesn't judge or fault those who do not, loves children but doesn't want to have any. Donates to many causes. Recycles, has worked hard all his life, has over come many health and mental issues and TURELY CARES about people other than myself. Even people I don't know. EVEN REPUBLICANS.. I just wish you would get your heads out of your own ass's!

    • Tim Rogers

      October 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      i"m gay and proudly voting Romney/Ryan!!!!!

    • Cynthia Ragan Martin

      October 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Chicken voting for Colonel Sanders just appeared in my itty bitty brain.

  11. I'm Just Sayin

    October 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thirty years from now when some historian makes a documentary about how gay self-loathing hindered the advancement of equality, it will be called “14 Opportunists and the Voice of Reason.”

  12. Anonymous

    October 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Bad call, friends. Romney is in the pocket of the right wing evangelical haters who think you are human garbage. Bad call.

  13. RCS

    October 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Log Cabin has just made a laughingstock of itself by endorsing a candidate who not only opposes marriage equality, but who, also, opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell.” It would have been far better to refrain from endorsing the Republican candidate and to instead urge its members and all Republicans to work to pass gay marriage in the states in which it is on the ballot this election.

  14. Vivian Fisher

    October 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I think you have made a patriotic decision. After the first debate one of Obama's criticisms of Romney was "that's not STATESMANSHIP, that's SALESMANSHIP." This is the basic problem with Obama – he can't or won't SELL his ideas to the people or to the Congress by working with them, so he FORCES what he wants on everyone. More than anything else now, we need BIPARTISANSHIP, and we will not get it from Obama.

  15. Lee Sills

    October 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Log Cabin Republicans, or Jews for Hitler. Delusion is delusion no matter how you spin it. Using the Nazis as a reference many political Jewish Bankers voted for social change in the 1930's and change certainly happened. Hitler built a new world order and paid for it on the backs of the people who elected him and then it was to late. I am for smaller government, and I don't like social welfare give away programs. I don't want higher taxes but today's Republican party is not our forefathers party. It is almost 2013 and the bile and hatred coming out of the party today should not be rewarded. I hardly think Mr. Copper would be so smug if in the middle of the night he was arrested for just spending a quiet night at home with his partner. Having all rights removed and having his personal assets seized. Cant happen today. It happened in Germany and it happened here with the Japanese Americans. Grow Up, don't condone the wrong practices just because you so long to fit in and sit at the big boy table. Make your voice matter. If Romney is elected interest rates will double, he will alienate China and while that sounds powerful China currently holds the majority of Americas dept and could force us to have record breaking inflation.

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National

Jim Obergefell announces bid for seat in Ohio state legislature

Marriage plaintiff moves on to new endeavor

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First Amendment Defense Act, gay news, Washington Blade
Jim Obergefell has announced he'd seek a seat in the Ohio state legislature.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

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National

FDA-funded blood donation study recruiting gay, bi men

D.C.’s Whitman-Walker, L.A. LGBT Center working on study to ease restrictions

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gay blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade
A new study could make it easier for gay and bi men to donate blood.

D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Institute and the Los Angeles LGBT Center are among LGBTQ supportive organizations in eight U.S. cities working with the nation’s three largest blood donation centers on a study to find a way to significantly ease blood donation eligibility for men who have sex with men or MSM.

The study, which is funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, calls for recruiting a total of 2,000 gay and bisexual men in eight U.S. cities selected for the study to test the reliability of a detailed donor history questionnaire aimed at assessing the individual risk of a gay or bisexual man transmitting HIV if they donate blood.

A statement released by the study organizers says the questionnaire, which could be given to a gay or bisexual person showing up at a blood donation site, could be a replacement for the FDA’s current policy of banning men who have had sex with another man within the previous three months from donating blood.

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the FDA put in place a permanent ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men. In 2015, with advanced HIV testing and screening techniques readily available, the FDA lifted its permanent ban on MSM blood donations and replaced it with a 12-month restriction for sexual activity between MSM.

The FDA further reduced the time of sexual abstinence for MSM to three months in 2020.

LGBTQ rights organizations and others advocating for a change in the current FDA restriction point out that at a time when the nation is facing a severe shortage of blood donations due to the COVID pandemic, the three-month donation deferral requirement for MSM is preventing a large number of blood donations from men whose risk of HIV infection is low to nonexistent.

Under the FDA-funded and initiated study, the American Red Cross, Vitalant, and OneBlood — the nation’s three largest blood donation centers — have been conducting the questionnaire testing since the study was launched in March 2021.

“To gather the necessary data, the blood centers will partner with LGBTQ+ Centers in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Orlando, New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Miami, Memphis, Los Angeles, and Atlanta,” the study organizers say in a statement on a website launched to help recruit volunteers for the study.

“The study will enroll a total of 2,000 gay and bisexual men (250 – 300 from each area) who meet the study eligibility criteria,” the statement says.

Among the criteria for being eligible, the statement says, is the person must be between 18 and 39 years old, have expressed an interest in donating blood, must have had sex with at least one other man in the three months before joining the study, and must agree to an HIV test. A negative test result is also required for acceptance into the study.

The study is officially named ADVANCE, which stands for Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility.

“The ADVANCE study is a first step in providing data that will help the FDA determine if a donor history questionnaire based on individual risk would be as effective as time-based deferral, in reducing the risk of HIV in the blood supply,” the study organizers statement says.

“If the scientific evidence supports the use of the different questions, it could mean men who have sex with men who present to donate would be assessed based upon their own individual risk for HIV infection and not according to when their last sexual contact with another man occurred,” the statement continues. “The ADVANCE study is groundbreaking because it’s the first time a study is being conducted that could result in individual risk assessment for men who have sex with men to donate blood,” the statement says.

The Whitman-Walker Institute, which is among the community-based organizations involved in helping organize and conduct the study, is an arm of Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive D.C. health center.

Christopher Cannon, director of Research Operations for Whitman-Walker Institute, said that since the D.C.-based part of the study was launched early last year prior to the official announcement of the study on March 20, D.C. has surpassed the original city goal of recruiting 250 participants for the study.

“We are currently at 276 as of last Friday’s report,” Cannon told the Blade in a Jan. 13 interview. “And the current goal is now 300,” he said. “So, we’re hoping to push this over that goal line in the coming days and weeks.

Cannon said that like the community organizations involved in the study in other cities, Whitman-Walker Institute’s role has been focused on recruiting gay and bisexual men to participate in the study and to send them to the American Red Cross headquarters building at 430 17th St., N.W. near the White House. That site, which serves as a blood donation center, is also serving as the site where study participants are screened, interviewed, and presented with a detailed questionnaire.

“We promote the study within Whitman-Walker,” Cannon said. “We promote it to our networks. We did social media promotions across the city.’

Although Whitman-Walker doesn’t have the final draft of the questionnaire being presented to study participants, Cannon said he has seen “bits and pieces” of it.  

“They ask very direct questions about the person’s sex life, sexual partners, sex acts, numbers of partners,” Cannon said. “There are questions about condom use, PrEP use, drug use. How recently have you had sex? Lots of related questions,” he said.

“It’s really about trying to figure out effectively which are the best questions,” according to Cannon. “The hope is by analyzing the questions and identifying maybe the best 10 to 12 questions that can be universally used…to get the best answers that identify the individuals that may have the highest risk,” he said. Doing that, he points, out can help determine which men who have sex with men should be eligible to safely donate blood.

A statement released by Whitman-Walker last March calls the study a “monumental research effort” that has the potential to lift the stigma imposed on gay and bisexual men whose ability to donate blood is currently based on their sexual orientation.

“The ADVANCE study is designed to understand if, by asking carefully crafted and research-informed research questions, blood collectors can screen potential blood donors for their individual HIV risk factors rather than applying a ban against sexually active gay and bisexual men,” the statement says.

“The goal is to move away from overly broad questions that exclude potential donors and spread stigmatizing messages about MSM and their HIV risks,” it says.

Cannon said that as of last week, study organizers had recruited a total of 879 study participants nationwide out of the goal of 2,000 participants needed to complete the study. He said issues related to the COVID pandemic created delays in the recruitment efforts, but study organizers were hopeful the study could be completed by this summer.

Information about participating in the study or learning more about it can be obtained at advancestudy.org.

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Federal Government

Veterans can now identify as transgender, nonbinary on their VA medical records

About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity

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Graphic via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Wednesday that his department added the options of transgender male, transgender female, nonbinary and other, when veterans select their gender, in medical records and healthcare documentation.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

The statement also noted that the change allows health-care providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

McDonough speaking at a Pride Month event last June at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, emphasized his support for Trans and LGBQ+ vets.

McDonough said that he pledged to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination and take steps to expand access to care for transgender veterans.

With this commitment McDonough said he seeks to allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” McDonough said. “We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he added.

In a survey of transgender veterans and transgender active-duty service members, transgender veterans reported several mental health diagnoses, including depression (65%), anxiety (41%), PTSD (31%), and substance abuse (16%).  In a study examining VHA patient records from 2000 to 2011 (before the 2011 VHA directive), the rate of suicide-related events among veterans with a gender identity disorder (GID) diagnoses was found to be 20 times higher than that of the general VHA patient population.

McDonough acknowledged the VA research pointing out that in addition to psychological distress, trans veterans also may experience prejudice and stigma. About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community,” McDonough said. “But they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination.

“At VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing,” he added.

All VA facilities have had a local LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator responsible for helping those veterans connect to available services since 2016.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” McDonough said. He added that the VA would also change the name of the Veterans Health Administration’s LGBT health program to the LGBTQ+ Health Program to reflect greater inclusiveness.

Much of the push for better access to healthcare and for recognition of the trans community is a result of the polices of President Joe Biden, who reversed the ban on Trans military enacted under former President Trump, expanding protections for transgender students and revived anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender Americans.

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