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Gay, bi lawmakers criticized for joining GOP on Obamacare vote

Sinema, Maloney sought to delay individual mandate

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Kyrsten Sinema, Sean Patrick Maloney, Democratic Party, United States House of Representatives, New York, Arizona, Victory Fund, gay news, Washington Blade
Kyrsten Sinema, Sean Patrick Maloney, Democratic Party, United States House of Representatives, New York, Arizona, Victory Fund, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney are incurring the wrath of gay activists for voting with House Republicans. (Photo of Sinema courtesy the Sinema campaign; Washington Blade photo of Maloney by Michael Key).

Two Democratic members of Congress — one gay and one bisexual — are incurring the wrath of LGBT activists for voting with House Republicans to delay certain portions of Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government in operation.

Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) were among nine Democrats on Monday who voted for a Republican-led resolution that provided funds for the government for fiscal year 2014, but included a provision delaying the individual mandate and requiring members of Congress and their staffs to pay the full cost of insurance without the government subsidy.

Additionally, Maloney voted for another measure that includes the above policy items in addition to calling for a conference committee with the Senate, which would likely mean some give on health care reform.

Both Maloney and Sinema also joined Republicans on Sunday to vote for repeal of the tax on medical devices as part of Obamacare.

Each House proposal was rejected by the Senate, which has insisted on a bill that only continues funding for the government, leading to the stalemate that caused the government shutdown on Tuesday.

Michael Rogers, a D.C.-based LGBT rights advocate, said the vote means Sinema and Maloney are Democrats in name only.

“I am a progressive so I wish Sinema and Maloney were more concerned about the American people than with their reelection,” Rogers said. “When Democrats stand for Democratic principles we win. If these two people won as out LGBT people, surely they would not have been tossed out sticking with their caucus. It is sellouts like Sinema and Maloney who, as DINOs, are more than willing to cave in to the crazy demands of the right.”

Michaelangelo Signorile, a gay New York activist and radio host on SiriusXM, took to Twitter to express his indignation.

John Aravosis, who’s gay and editor of AMERICAblog, also had harsh words for the two lawmakers, who ran as openly gay/bi candidates and took donations from the LGBT community.

“I think it’s abominable,” Aravosis said. “No Democrat, let alone a gay or bisexual one, should be working to undercut health care protections for Americans, let alone helping John Boehner do anything.”

The other openly gay lawmakers in the U.S. House — Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), David Cicciline (D-R.I.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) — didn’t join Maloney or Sinema in these votes.

Maloney and Sinema voted against the most drastic proposal from House Republicans to attach a one-year delay of health care reform to the spending bill for fiscal year 2014.

In a statement, Maloney defended his vote for delaying the individual mandate by pointing to the administration.

“I strongly support the president’s decision to give employers more time to comply with the law, and I believe that we should give families the same flexibility we’re giving to our small businesses,” Maloney said.

Maloney also explained his support for eliminating health care subsidies for government employees by saying the playing field for public and private workers should be equal.

“Families and businesses in the Hudson Valley are not getting special subsidies from Obamacare and neither should members of Congress or the White House,” Maloney said.

In a separate statement, Sinema defended her votes by saying they ensure individuals can sign up for health care plans without “being punished” for failing to purchase adequate healthcare coverage.

“It’s now been proven that too many states are not ready to implement the marketplaces,” Sinema said. “It’s not fair to punish people who don’t have the information they need to make informed decisions. Arizona’s hard-working families need transparency and certainty about this healthcare law and its implementation. A one-year delay of the individual mandate will ensure that Arizonans get that certainty.”

Sinema also said health care subsidies for government employees shouldn’t happen with a government shutdown in effect.

“Additionally, I supported tonight’s amendment because members of Congress should not ask the government to pay for their healthcare while Americans at home suffer during government shutdown,” Sinema said.

Neither the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor the Democratic National Committee responded to the Blade’s request for comment on Sinema and Maloney joining House Republicans. Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, is on furlough and unable to respond to media requests.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed the openly gay/bi candidates and called for donations from LGBT people for the candidates, didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Human Rights Campaign also endorsed both candidates and didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sinema and Maloney have been active on LGBT-specific issues since their election to Congress. They voted for an LGBT-inclusive version of  the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Dana Beyer, a Chevy Chase, Md.,-based transgender activist, said the LGBT community shouldn’t judge Sinema and Maloney too harshly for their votes because “these late night political machinations are generally theater” and don’t say anything about the lawmakers’ overall voting records.

“This issue isn’t about the LGBT community; it’s about America,” Beyer said. “They should be judged on a much broader set of criteria and values than this one vote, and I hope people take the context into account.”

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Norman Dostal

    October 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    vote them out

  2. Don Burns

    October 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    In favor of what? A conservative nutbag? Some people don't seem to get it so far, even though these facts are there in the Congressional record, so let me lay it out for you crystal clear: SHE VOTED AGAINST THE REPUBLICANS FOUR TIMES OUT OF FIVE VOTES. There was only one time she voted with them, which was to fund the government and delay the individual mandate one year. That's not "destroying" Obamacare (which she helped to pass), and while I would not have recommended she vote that way, the answer is she does not deserve to be drummed out of office for this one vote. Gays that argue she should be kicked out are fickle and mercurial on a good day.

  3. Patrick Howell

    October 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Gays line up to eat their own. Again.

  4. Patrick Howell

    October 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Michelangelo Signorelli is just a shill of the Democratic Party. Anything glbt is secondary to him. Sad what a night in the Lincoln Bedroom will do to someone.

    • Kathy

      October 4, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Right – because lgbt people don’t need access to health care. Jeez – gay men especially should consider delaying that to be a betrayal. There’s more than one nutbag here.

  5. Rick Mangus

    October 3, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Maybe these guys are not mindless queens like the rest of you!

  6. Andy Humm

    October 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    This crisis is NOT the time to be re-debating Obamacare. There are plenty of opportunities to do that in the normal legislative process. The Republicans are engaging in extortion and Sean Patrick Maloney and Kyrsten Sinema were two of only nine Democrats who joined in this outrageous action. Look, I'd like to see gay rights and immigration reform pass the Congress, but I would never demand that my representatives shut down the government to get it. Maloney and Sinema are traitors to their party, their president and their country.

  7. Andy Humm

    October 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    This crisis is NOT the time to be re-debating Obamacare. There are plenty of opportunities to do that in the normal legislative process. The Republicans are engaging in extortion and Sean Patrick Maloney and Kyrsten Sinema were two of only nine Democrats who joined in this outrageous action. Look, I'd like to see gay rights and immigration reform pass the Congress, but I would never demand that my representatives shut down the government to get it. Maloney and Sinema are traitors to their party, their president and their country.

  8. Anonymous

    October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Are the two openly gay representatives standing up for their constituents in voting for a delay in implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act?

  9. Nick Kokoshis

    October 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    The only good thing that can be said is that they are Democrats, which means they coalition with the Democrats and that helps the power base for Democratic legislation. The next issue is there districts– how safe are they? These might be convenience votes to placate their districts? For example, there was a Democrat in Minnesota that voted against gay marriage, but he made it clear it wasn't what he believed but what his constituents wanted. This means the law passed, and he will be in a good position to keep his seat– which is important to keeping Democrats in the majority. Political decision making isn't always so black and white.

  10. Art Reyes

    October 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    r u talking about all of their constituents or just the ones who vote???

  11. Bruce Majors

    October 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    When all medical care is one government allocated pie, I think you will find gays and lesbians special health needs will be easily underfunded if larger political blocs want the funds.

    No socialist countries ever started a government owned gay bar or lesbian newspaper.

  12. Bruce Majors

    October 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Wow. Independent and thinking gays in the Democratic Party. One never meets those among the paid hos in DC.

  13. Stephen Clark

    October 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Dana Beyer's remarks are one the stupidest or most disingenuous things I've ever heard from an activist. How, exactly, are those of us condemning these LGBTs for their conservatives votes somehow making it about the LGBT community? What!? Beyer's ordering us to support these conservative Dems solely because they're LGBT is making it about the LGBT community. I'll support progressive straight allies every time over gay conservatives. Because, Dana, I *AM* making it about America, not about their sexual or gender identity.

  14. Stephen Clark

    October 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Enjoy your mindless gay tribalism. I'll support the progressive alternative, gay or straight, over a gay conservative every time. This is what equality looks like.

  15. Stephen Clark

    October 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Nick Kokoshis Sean Malone's district is in NYC. This isn't about serving his constituents. It's about servicing his Wall Street puppetmasters.

  16. Stephen Clark

    October 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Actually, requiring us all to support candidates solely because they are gay or bisexual is being a mindless queen. Sorry, I'm not conservative, and I don't support conservatives, gay or straight.

  17. Michael DeCastro

    October 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

    It's about time someone tells it like it is!!!

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World

Puerto Rico activists condemn police raid on LGBTQ-friendly bar

More than 20 officers descended on Loverbar near the University of Puerto Rico

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Lovebar (Photo via Twitter)

Activists in Puerto Rico have condemned a police raid on an LGBTQ-friendly bar that took place on Thursday night.

Local media reports indicate more than 20 officers with the San Juan Municipal Police Department entered Loverbar, which is near the campus of the University of Puerto Rico, at around 11 p.m.

A video posted to social media shows that some of the officers who entered the bar were armed with what appear to be shot guns.

Media reports cite local authorities who said Loverbar did not have the necessary permits to operate as a bar, and the officers arrived there to fine them. San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero in a statement said officers fined Loverbar and seven other businesses in the city on Thursday for either not having the necessary permits or excessive noise.

“The Municipal Police of San Juan led by Miguel Romero intervened last night with a queer bar,” tweeted Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group. “This reminds us of a time when LGBTQI+ people were prosecuted, criminalized and villified.”

“We won’t tolerate homophobia and transphobia in San Juan,” added Serrano.

Comité Amplio Para la Búsqueda de Equidad (CABE), another Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, has called for an “exhaustive and independent investigation into the excessive use of force and intimidation by the Municipal Police of San Juan last night” at Loverbar.

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Two injured in gunfire outside crowded 14th Street restaurants

Witnesses say 20 shots fired near Blade, Whitman-Walker offices

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Police are looking for three suspects in connection with Thursday’s shooting.

D.C. police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least three suspects involved in a shooting in which two men were wounded shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, on the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W. where the offices of the Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, are located.

The shooting occurred while dozens of people were dining at restaurants along the bustling street in the heart of the city’s Logan Circle nightlife area.

Police released a video showing two men – one wearing a white hooded sweater or sweatshirt and the other wearing a dark colored similar hooded shirt running along the street and entering the front and rear passenger doors of a black car double parked on the street that police described as an older model Honda Civic with D.C. license plates.

The video shows the car driving away at a fast speed with a third person driving the vehicle.

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District seek the public’s assistance in locating suspects and a vehicle in reference to an Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun) offense,” a statement released by D.C. police says.

“At approximately 8:20 p.m., members of the Third District heard the sounds of gunshots and responded to the listed location,” the statement says. “Upon arrival, members located two adult male victims, both conscious and breathing, suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to the statement. “DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The shooting incident took place at a time when many city residents and police were on edge following the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl on July 16 in Southeast D.C. and the firing of gunshots last Saturday outside Washington Nationals Stadium during a game, which prompted people inside the stadium, who heard the gunshots, to duck for cover.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who was accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, said investigators believe one of the two men wounded by the gunfire was a target of the shooting. Contee said police believe the second victim was hit in the crossfire.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can as an entire system here in the District of Columbia to hold offenders accountable when these things happen in our community,” Contee said. “This is unacceptable. That’s the bottom line. It is totally unacceptable behavior,” he said.

“I’m asking the community to take a look at these videos,” he told reporters at the press conference. “If you know the person or the vehicle or somebody who is in that – there is one individual with a very distinctive hoody that he was wearing – please look at that very closely,” he said. “We’re asking for the community’s help.”

When asked by a reporter to comment on expressions of outrage by members of the community over the widespread outbreak of gun violence in the city, Bowser said she shares that concern.

“Well, I’m outraged. The chief is outraged. And the community should be outraged,” the mayor said. “What we saw tonight and unfortunately what we saw over the last several days is an illegal firearm brazenly used on D.C. streets,” Bowser said.

“And we know that our investigators and detectives are going to track down every lead. Our citizens have already been helpful in supplying leads and video and anything else that they saw so that we can get these individuals off the street and hold them accountable,” the mayor said.

Witnesses have said the Thursday night shooting on 14th Street reportedly occurred at the intersection of Riggs Street outside the Mexicue Restaurant, which is located at 1720 14th Street, N.W. The Blade office is located just a few doors down and Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor building is a short distance away across the street at 14th and R Street, N.W.

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Senate confirms lesbian, trans nominees to high-profile defense roles

Skelly is second out transgender appointee to obtain confirmation

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The U.S. Senate confirmed on Tuesday two Biden nominees — one lesbian, another transgender — for high-profile positions at the Defense Department by unanimous consent.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian former Air Force pilot and Texas congressional candidate, was confirmed as under secretary of the Air Force, and Shawn Skelly, a transgender 20-year U.S. Navy veteran and a defense appointee in the Obama administration, was confirmed as assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

For the second time in U.S. history, the Senate has confirmed an openly transgender person as a presidential appointee — and did so without controversy by unanimous consent.

Just months ago, Rachel Levine was confirmed as assistant secretary of health on a party-line basis after enduring rude, invasive questioning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during her confirmation hearing on transgender health care.

Jones has also made an achievement through Senate approval: She’s the first out lesbian to win confirmation to serve in a high-level defense position.

The Senate confirmation of the nominees by unanimous consent is consistent with their confirmation hearing, which both Jones and Skelly breezed through without hostility.

Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, pointed out in a statement the two newly confirmed presidential appointees both served in the U.S. military under bans against LGBTQ people in the armed forces.

“Gina and Shawn served their country when living openly could result in discharge and a lost career, so their ascension to key leadership positions is a powerful moment for those servicemembers who served or continue to serve in silence,” Parker said. “Their confirmation will transform perceptions of LGBTQ people within the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the leaders of militaries we work with around the world.”

Another out LGBTQ person nominated by Biden for a high-profile defense role is Brenda Sue Fulton, whom Biden nominated to become assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs. Her nomination, however, has not even had a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. It’s unclear why her nomination hasn’t moved forward.

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