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EXCLUSIVE: Del. GOP executive director attends marriage fundraiser

John Fluharty stressed issue is of “personal importance for me as a gay man.”

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John Fluharty, Delaware, Republican Party, GOP, gay news, Washington Blade
John Fluharty, Delaware, Republican Party, GOP, gay news, Washington Blade

Delaware Republican Party Executive Director John Fluharty (Photo courtesy of John Fluharty)

WILMINGTON, Del.—The gay executive director of the Delaware Republican Party is among those who attended an Equality Delaware fundraiser on March 15.

“I’m here this evening because I support marriage equality,” John Fluharty told the Washington Blade in an exclusive interview at Timothy’s on the Riverfront in Wilmington. “It’s an issue that’s of personal importance for me as a gay man.”

Fluharty, who describes himself as a gay conservative Republican, spoke to the Blade less than a day after U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) publicly endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples. He applauded the senator’s position in a tweet he sent from his private Twitter account.

“I commend Sen. Portman,” Fluharty told the Blade. “It was an absolutely right thing for him to do.”

Fluharty, who directed ballot access and delegate operations for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign, became executive director of the Delaware Republican Party last May.

He spoke with the Blade ahead of the anticipated introduction of a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in Delaware.

Fluharty deferred questions about a timeline on the likely debate on the issue in Dover to Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman. Attorney General Beau Biden told the Blade over the weekend he remains optimistic GOP lawmakers will support the gay marriage measure once it is formally introduced.

More than 200 Republican state legislators across the country have so far voted in support of same-sex marriage. Former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr., Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady and Meghan McCain are among the Republicans who have publicly backed the issue.

Former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, Margaret Hoover, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and GOP strategist Ana Navarro are among the more than 100 Republicans who signed onto an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in the case that challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. The justices on March 26-27 will hear oral arguments in the case and another that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday found 52 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who are between 18-49 support nuptials for gays and lesbians. Three-quarters of Republican respondents who took part in a Global Strategy Group survey that Equality Delaware commissioned said same-sex marriage in the First State would not negatively impact their lives.

“Slowly you’re starting to see the Republicans climb on board with marriage equality,” Fluharty said. “There’s no question our party is farther behind than the Democratic Party, but slowly but surely.”

He added he feels supporting the issue is also a politically prudent position.

“It’s good to be on the right side of history and the numbers show this is where the nation’s going,” Fluharty said.

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Comings & Goings

Cummings joins White House Office of National Cyber Director

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John Cummings

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to John Cummings on joining the Office of the National Cyber Director at the White House as Director of Supply Chain and Technology Security. Upon getting the position, he said, “I am beyond thrilled to join the growing team at the National Cyber Director’s Office and bring my experience to our mission of mitigating the cyber threats facing our nation and ensuring every American can enjoy the full benefits of the digital ecosystem. It is truly a privilege to work with this incredibly brilliant and collegial group of cyber experts.” 

Prior to joining the White House, Cummings served as Associate General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Before that role, he served as interim Chief Counsel for ODNI’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center and as Associate General Counsel for the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.

He has provided legal advice and counsel on matters of government-wide and interagency policy and national security in the areas of executive authority, cyber, constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, legislative affairs, and international cooperation. He has worked on recruiting LGBTQ, women, and minority applicants for government roles in national security and is experienced in public relations, stakeholder relationships, and international partnerships. 

Cummings began his career clerking for the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and also clerked for the House Committee on Homeland Security and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

He attended Villanova University where he received a bachelor’s degree in English. He earned his J.D. from Loyola Law, New Orleans, and his LL.M. in National Security Law from Georgetown Law.

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Maryland

Abortion rights in post-Roe Maryland, Delaware

Practice generally legal, with some restrictions

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (Public domain photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 found that the decision to receive an abortion was generally protected by the Constitution of the United States. With the broadest federal protection of abortion access now rescinded, the legality of abortion will by and large be determined on the state level.

In Delaware, abortion is legal through the Medical Practice Act — but with some restrictions.

After fetal viability, or the point where a fetus can survive outside the uterus, abortion in the First State becomes illegal unless necessary for the patient’s “life or health,” or if the fetus has a condition “for which there is not a reasonable likelihood” that it will survive outside the uterus, according to Subchapter IX of the act

Additionally, under the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, physicians cannot perform a surgical abortion on minors under the age of 16 unless the patient’s parent or guardian has received at least 24 hours notice from a medical professional. Notice is not required for nonsurgical abortions.

On the federal level, the funding of abortion is illegal through the 1977 Hyde Amendement “except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights advocacy organization. States are only federally required to fund abortions that meet these conditions through federal-state Medicaid programs. 

While some states also fund abortions deemed medically necessary regardless of whether they endanger a patient’s life, Delaware state law does not extend beyond federal guidelines: The state only funds abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Abortion legislation in Delaware mirrors neighboring Maryland, whose laws include similar restrictions on abortion after fetal viability and abortion for minors under the age of 16. But abortion laws in these states are generally more restrictive than other mid-Atlantic counterparts, such as New Jersey and New York.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) weighed in on the state’s abortion law on Friday.

“In 1992, Maryland voters approved a constitutional referendum legalizing and protecting access to abortion as a matter of state law – that measure remains in effect today following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor.”

The impact of Roe v. Wade’s fall in Delaware remains uncertain. While the abortion rate in Delaware steadily declined between 2014 and 2017, recent findings show that instances of abortion are increasing once again in the state, reflecting a rise on the national level.

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Virginia

Youngkin backs abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy

Republican governor supports exceptions for incest, rape and protecting mother’s life

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade said he will seek to ban abortions in his state after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Virginians do want fewer abortions as opposed to more abortions,” Youngkin told the Washington Post. “I am not someone who is going to jump in and try to push us apart … There is a place we can come together.”

Youngkin, a Republican, took office in January.

His party controls the Virginia House of Delegates, but Democrats maintain a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dobbs, giving power back to the states to make decisions on abortion,” said Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears in a statement. “The court has recognized that the 1973 decision was an example of judicial and federal overreach. The important question of abortion has now been returned to statehouses across the country, in order for them to make their own policy decisions, which is exactly what the founding fathers envision when they wrote the 10th amendment to the Constitution.” 

“I applaud the court for recognizing this wrong and having the courage to correct it. I look forward to working with the governor and the General Assembly in the next legislative session on legislation that respects life,” she added.

Abortion is currently legal in Virginia during the first and second trimesters.

Youngkin on Friday said he supports abortion exemptions in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk.

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