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RNC report calls for gay outreach

But plan makes no mention of opposition to marriage equality



Reince Priebus, Rebpublican National Committee, RNC, Republican Party, GOP, Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade
Reince Priebus, Rebpublican National Committee, RNC, Republican Party, GOP, Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Amid division within the Republican Party on LGBT issues like marriage equality, the Republican National Committee unveiled a report calling for greater outreach to gay people along with other minority groups.

The 98-page report launches the “Growth & Opportunity Project” to repackage the GOP brand after losses on Election Day.

Outreach to gays is noted in the section of the report that recognizes the notion some minorities think the Republican Party is uncaring. One recommendation: Republican candidates and officeholders need to “do a better job” talking to communities the party normally doesn’t address.

“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too,” the report states.

The report notes that younger voters — not just gay people — are being turned off by the Republican Party because treatment of gay people is seen as a “gateway” to entering the party.

“Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be,” the report states.

Other non-gay related recommendations in the report are enhanced messaging, holding fewer debates during the presidential primary and holding the Republican National Convention earlier in the year. As part of a $10 million effort, the report recommends hiring political outreach directors to communicate with black, Latino and faith-based communities, although hiring an LGBT outreach director isn’t identified in the report.

The report makes no mention of the positions the Republican Party should adopt on LGBT issues, such as same-sex marriage. The 2012 Republican Party platform opposes marriage equality and calls for passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

During a breakfast at the National Press Club, RNC Chair Reince Priebus talked about the importance of the report and said it highlights errors made by the party in the 2012 election.

“We wanted an assessment that was frank, thorough and transparent,” Priebus said. “To get a fresh start, we had to be honest with ourselves and with our voters. We want to build our party, and we want to do with bold strokes to show that we’re up to the challenge, and we’re done with business as usual.”

During the question-and-answer session, Priebus was asked by event moderator and National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane about what the GOP can do to overcome its anti-gay and anti-woman reputation. In his reply, Priebus invoked Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who came out last week in favor of marriage equality.

“I think Sen. Portman made some pretty big inroads last week,” Priebus said. “I think it’s about being decent. I think it’s about dignity and respect — that nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, or people don’t deserve to be disrespected. I think there isn’t anyone in this room — Republican, Democrat, in the middle — that doesn’t think, Rob Portman, for example, is a good conservative Republican. He is, and we know that.”

But in response to a question submitted by the Washington Blade, Priebus dodged when asked whether the RNC supports Portman’s decision to come out for same-sex marriage.

“It’s his decision,” Priebus said. “It’s not a matter of whether I support his decision; I support him doing what he wants to do as an elected person and as American. If that’s his opinion, I support him having that opinion.”

Asked whether Portman’s position would detract from the financial support the senator would receive from the RNC, Priebus replied, “No, not at all. He will be supported.”

The Democratic National Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment on the GOP’s plans, but LGBT groups affiliated with the GOP had high praise for the report.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, attended the breakfast and said Priebus demonstrated he’s “serious” about getting back voters who’ve been turned off by the party.

“Of all the underrepresented populations with which the GOP needs to make inroads, acknowledging the party’s deficiencies in addressing LGBT voters would not only broaden support among gay voters, but increase appeal among the youth vote that is critical to the longevity of the Republican Party,” Angelo said.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, also praised the report.

“This report was a massive undertaking with input from all kinds of Republicans, including gay conservatives,” LaSalvia said. “I am very encouraged by the final product. It demonstrates that the RNC’s leadership ‘gets it.’ We have to engage with everyone in America, and that includes gay Americans.”

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  1. Timothy Garcia

    March 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Too little. Too late.

  2. kenny

    March 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    He is a joke! Does Priebus really think that all he and other anti-Gay Republicans have to do is to say that they want our votes, but them continue to do everything they can think of to demean and insult us. Not to mention, denying our basis civil rights? Forget about it. I’ll NEVER vote Republican, simply because of all the harm they have caused in the past. It will take several decades, not years, for them to repair the damage they have done, and even longer to repair their image!

  3. Gloria Becks

    March 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Hey girls, welcome to____lespassion, com____, one of the best dating site for we lesbian women. Give it a shot and you'll find your dreamed match with tens of thousands of lesbian women are there. :)

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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



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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Prominent LGBTQ+ activist found dead in Florida landfill

Diaz-Johnston was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz & he led the fight for marriage equality



Photo courtesy of Don Diaz Johnston

Police in Florida’s capital city confirmed that the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, who had been reported missing was found in a Jackson County landfill Saturday morning.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive Jan. 3 in Tallahassee, more than an hour from where his body was found, according to a missing person notice released by police. Detectives are investigating his death as a homicide, a police spokesperson said.

Diaz-Johnston, was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. As an LGBTQ advocate he led the fight for marriage equality, he and his husband were plaintiffs in an historic 2014 lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade County.

ABC News reported at the time that a South Florida circuit court judge sided with Diaz-Johnston and five couples suing the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Florida dropped its ban on same-sex marriage in 2015.

His husband wrote in a poignant Facebook post; “There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can’t stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge. He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” Equality Florida said adding, “Our deepest condolences to Don and Jorge’s extended family.”

Detectives urge anyone who may have information to call 850-891-4200, or make an anonymous tip to Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

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Bill prohibiting ‘gay panic defense’ clears New Hampshire House

New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of ‘gay panic’ as a defense



New Hampshire State House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Legislation prohibiting defendants accused of manslaughter from using the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation as a defense, which had died in committee during the 2021 regular session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was reintroduced this session and passed with a 223-118 vote last week.

House Bill 238, stirred up controversary from opponents who claimed that state statues already covered murder and manslaughter. During a Criminal Justice committee hearing last Spring, Rep. Dick Marston, a Manchester Republican, voiced opposition, saying that the laws already cover murder and manslaughter and that “there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–‘”

Marston was cut off by committee chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican, who gaveled him down and rebuked him for the derogatory language the Concord-Monitor reported

Later, the committee Republicans blocked an effort to move the bill out of committee alleging it needed more work and was not necessary because a jury could already strike down a similar attempted defense. The bill was then stalled in the committee, effectively killing it from being pushed further in last year’s session.

As the measure now heads to the state Senate, New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of the ‘gay panic’ as a defense.

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