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Obama nominates lesbian attorney for judgeship

Kaplan named as candidate for U.S. Court of Federal Claims

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Elaine Kaplan, gay news, Washington Blade
Elaine Kaplan, U.S. Office of Personnel Management's general counsel (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Elaine Kaplan, Currently serves as U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s general counsel. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama on Tuesday named attorney Elaine D. Kaplan, the current general counsel for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, as one of two nominees to become a judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kaplan would become the second out gay person to serve on the specialized court, which hears cases brought by citizens against the federal government to recover monetary damages.

In 2009, Obama appointed Federal Claims Court Judge Emily C. Hewitt, a lesbian, to become the court’s chief judge. Hewitt, whose 15-year term on the court ends in October, was first appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1998.

On Tuesday, Obama also nominated attorney Patricia E. Campbell-Smith to become a judge on the Court of Federal Claims. Campbell-Smith has been serving since 2005 as a special master for the court as part of its program to adjudicate cases involving vaccine related injuries.

“These nominees have dedicated their careers to serving the public good,” the president said in a statement released by the White House. “And in so doing, they have displayed an unyielding commitment to justice and integrity,” he said.

“I am certain that they will serve the American people well from the Court of Federal Claims, and I am honored to nominate them today,” Obama said.

Kaplan has served as general counsel for OPM since 2009 under gay OPM Director John Berry, who was one of Obama’s first high-level gay appointees.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Kaplan worked from 2004 to 2009 as Senior Deputy General Counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union and from 2003 to 2004 as an attorney for the D.C. law firm Bernabei and Katz.

In 1998, Kaplan was nominated by President Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed by the Senate to serve as director of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, where she served a designated five-year term that extended into the first two years of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Congress created the Office of Special Counsel as an independent agency intended to protect the merit-based U.S. civil service system by investigating and prosecuting complaints of prohibited personnel practices against federal government employees. The OSC is also charged with protecting whistleblowers who report instances of government misconduct or waste from improper reprisals.

Kaplan made news during her tenure as OSC chief when she strengthened protections against discrimination based on federal employees’ sexual orientation, citing a provision in the existing U.S. civil service law that she interpreted to cover LGBT employees.

She became the subject of further news reports after completing her term at the OSC when her successor named by Bush, anti-gay attorney and religious right figure Scott J. Bloch, reversed her policy toward gay federal workers. In an action that created an uproar among LGBT activists, Bloch declared that that no legal protections existed for gay or lesbian federal workers targeted for employment discrimination.

During her tenure as general counsel for the NTEU, Kaplan criticized Bloch for his actions as OSC head. Bloch subsequently became the target of an investigation by the FBI, which raided his office and home following allegations that he improperly sought to purge employees at the OSC who disagreed with him and allegedly was responsible for hiring a computer company to “scrub” files from his office computer. He resigned from his OSC position in 2008.

Shortly after pleading guilty in 2011 for contempt of Congress, for allegedly failing to disclose information requested during a congressional hearing, Bloch filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen people he claimed conspired to have him ousted from his job at the OSC. Among those named in the lawsuit, which sought $202 million damages, were Kaplan, Berry, and the Human Rights Campaign, which Bloch accused of conspiring with Kaplan and others to oust him from his job.

According to a clerk at the Fairfax County, Va., Circuit Court where Bloch filed the lawsuit, Circuit Court Judge Jane Roush dismissed the lawsuit on June 29, 2012 without prejudice. The “without prejudice” dismissal gave Bloch the option of filing the case again within six months under Circuit Court rules, but the clerk said there is no record of him having done so.

D.C. attorney Debra Katz, who was also named as a defendant in Bloch’s lawsuit, told the Blade the judge dismissed the case on grounds of “failure to prosecute” because Bloch, who represented himself in court, never served any of the named defendants with a complaint or summons.

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  1. Douglas Kinan

    March 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Anyone who believes that Ms. Kaplan's nomination should be affirmed should send for my 30-page affidavit concerning my reporting to her, to include, perhaps, the biggest promotion fixing scheme in the history of the federal government, hate crimes, egregious retaliation and other verified criminal violations that were reported to her during her tenure as Special Counsel.

    Ms. Kaplan failed to act on these verified prohibited personnel practices resulting in fraud, waste abuse, subsidized by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, harm to innocent individuals and collateral damage so enormous that it cannot be quantified.

    [email protected]
    617-323-6171
    Sworn and Commissioned Officer – Massachusetts Trial Court (Retired).

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National

NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

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NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

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Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated

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(Public domain photo)

A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Boulevard Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Los Angeles Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 p.m., while delivering the threat said; “You’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the LAPD responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PT.

“Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI Latino immigrants who live in the U.S.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County.

The [email protected] Coalition’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

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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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