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LGBT groups court Latinos to build ENDA, marriage support

La Raza conference features LGBT closed-door session

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A new truth has emerged about American politics in the aftermath of the election results last year and as Congress works to find a way to pass immigration reform: support from the Latino community is in high demand.

During a three-day conference of the National Council of La Raza in New Orleans, advocates for a range of causes — LGBT and otherwise — made their cases to the community, which is now the most populous minority group in the United States.

First lady Michelle Obama took the opportunity to sell her husband’s signature achievement — health care reform legislation — in addition to building grassroots support for it during the keynote address that she delivered on Tuesday.

“But let’s be clear, simply passing the Affordable Care Act was not the goal,” Michelle Obama said. “The goal is to get folks to sign up for the insurance so they have the care they need to stay healthy. And as leaders in our communities, we are going to need your help to make this happen.”

The opportunity to build support for LGBT issues in the Latino community was not lost on advocates. A closed-door LGBT session on Sunday was one of several sessions held at the conference where an estimated 2,000 attendees interested in Latino activism were present.

Representatives of LGBT groups — Freedom to Work, Lambda Legal and Freedom to Marry — met with local affiliates of the Latino organizations during the session to discuss ways to cooperate and build grassroots support for LGBT initiatives.

Jennifer Ng’andu, the National Council of La Raza’s director of health and civil rights policy projects, coordinated the session and later told the Washington Blade that about 60 organizations were there from affiliate organizations.

“What I think is important is that affiliates from all across the country, including many different states from Louisiana to Delaware, from folks in Michigan to California came to convening,” Ng’andu said.

Ng’andu said the LGBT work this year follows up on the first-ever session on LGBT issues that was held at the NCLR conference last year. Although participants said no formal agreements were made, the general sense was that Latino activists voiced interest in advancing LGBT issues.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said support from the Latino community will be crucial as efforts continue to lobby undecided senators on ENDA ahead of the Senate vote expected this fall.

“Since the ‘cafecito’ LGBT discussion, several NCLR affiliates in key states have already reached out to Freedom to Work to offer their help and advocacy in convincing holdout ENDA senators to vote ‘yes,'” Almeida said. “We may work on letters to the editor, constituent emails and phone calls, lobby visits in the senators’ home states, and outreach to local Spanish-language media. It would be great if Sen. Bill Nelson read in Florida’s Spanish-language newspapers that Latino voters are calling him ‘poco claro y quizas indeciso’ around his upcoming ENDA vote.”

Several states with significant Latino populations — Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — are represented by senators who haven’t declared support for ENDA, but are seen as potential “yes” votes on the bill this fall.

Latino groups have been some of the most vocal advocates of workplace protections for LGBT people. In April 2012, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund was the first non-LGBT civil rights group to call for an executive order from President Obama barring workplace discrimination against LGBT workers. After the White House announced the order won’t happen at this time, NCLR was the first non-LGBT group to call on the administration to “revisit” the idea.

According to a 2011 study from the Movement Advancement Project, 80 percent of Latinos believe gay people often face discrimination, 83 percent support housing and employment non-discrimination protections and 74 percent support marriage or marriage-like legal recognition for gay couples.

Omar Narvaez, community educator in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office, said he spoke briefly about the wins on marriage equality at the Supreme Court, but also his organization’s pending marriage equality cases in Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois as well as plans for another case in Virginia.

“The mood of the room was very positive as the affiliate leaders in the room were mostly not LGBT folk and/or LGBT orgs, but strictly Latino orgs that were/are working to bring inclusive policies and work to their affiliates across the country,” Narvaez said. “The responses were very positive and many left wanting more information on specific issues facing their communities like workplace discrimination, police accountability, youth in schools, bullying and foster/adoption.”

Angela Dallara, a spokesperson for Freedom to Marry, acknowledged that her group participated in the closed-door session, but deferred to NCLR for more information.

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Politics

Anti-LGBTQ Daily Wire host says 2 men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt babies

” […] because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn’t be allowed either.”

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Screenshot of Matt Walsh via YouTube (Blade file photo)

NASHVILLE – Anti-LGBTQ Daily Wire podcast and YouTuber Matt Walsh joined the growing chorus of far-right and conservative voices outraged that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg went on paternity leave from his job in August after he and his husband Chasten had adopted two children.

On his show Monday Walsh not only criticized Buttigieg, but he attacked same-sex couples adopting children altogether.

It’s absurd for any public employee, paid on taxpayer dime, to be given that much time off. Now, you can make an argument for women on maternity leave but not for men. Paternity leave is a nice luxury for private companies that can afford it. The U.S. government is not a private company – it’s a public institution, deeply in debt, failing in just about every way and everywhere. So this is not a time and not the place for those kinds of luxuries. But that’s the somewhat safer point to make, right? You are in a much more hazardous place, you are in more hazardous waters when you go away from that and, instead, you start saying mildly critical things about paternity leave in general as a concept.”

I also didn’t say that there’s nothing at all for a man to do for his family after a child is born. I said that as far as caring for the newborn himself, most of that is going to be done by the mother. She, in most cases, will be feeding the child. The child also needs and wants his mother’s presence, his mother’s touch, her voice. The father should be interacting with the baby also, obviously, but the infant is far more focused on his mother at that age. And needs his mother more. There is no mother in the Buttigieg household, but that doesn’t change the point here.”

Babies need their mothers, which is why two men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt babies in the first place. And the outrage mob can now start a secondary campaign over that comment. But I’ll say it again. Two men should not be allowed to adopt babies because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn’t be allowed either.

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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Washington Blade file photo)

Appearing remotely on MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace’s politics program Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the attack on his parental leave.

“This attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, ” Buttigieg said.

During his Thursday evening program Carlson said, “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child—paternity leave, they call it—trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went. But now he’s back in office as the transportation secretary and he’s deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can’t get into this country.”

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National

Biden recognizes National Coming Out Day as time to honor LGBTQ people

White House statement denounces ‘bullying and harassment’

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President Biden recognized Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day in a statement on Monday calling the occasion a time to celebrate the “courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self.”

Biden ticked off in the statement the achievements on LGBTQ policy, including signing an executive order on his first day in his office ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year against anti-LGBTQ discrimination to the furthest extent possible.

“Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures,” Biden said. “Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on National Coming Out Day

Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self. Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.

My Administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people can live openly, proudly, and freely in every corner of our nation. I am proud to lead an Administration with LGBTQ+ officials serving openly at the highest levels of government — and prouder that together we have made historic progress advancing protections and equal opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. From acting on Day One to prevent and combat discrimination, to enabling all qualified Americans – including transgender Americans – to serve their country in uniform, to defending the human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world, my Administration has been clear that we will continue to champion the dignity, equality, and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. From defeating discriminatory bills to passing the Equality Act, we have more work to do to ensure that every American can live free of fear, harassment, and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.

To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you. My Administration will always have your back, and we will continue fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect you deserve.

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