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Polis confident ENDA would pass House

Colorado Dem says Republicans have assured him they’ll back pro-LGBT bill



Jared Polis, Democratic Party, Colorado, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade, Victory Fund, Congressional LGBT Pride Reception
Jared Polis, Democratic Party, Colorado, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade, Victory Fund, Congressional LGBT Pride Reception

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) says he’s “confident” the House would pass ENDA if it came up for a vote (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas).

The champion of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. House is joining the choir of those who assert that the bill would pass — if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) allows it to come to the floor.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, predicted during an interview with the Washington Blade Friday that ENDA would pass the House and said the next step for the bill is to pressure Republican leaders to bring it to the floor. He added that a number of undeclared Republicans have privately told him they’d vote “yes.”

“The next step is, of course, to continue to apply pressure to the speaker and the majority leader to bring it to the floor, where I’m confident it has enough support to pass,” Polis said. “The best way to do that is to demonstrate it has that support and continuing to add co-sponsors, particularly more Republican co-sponsors to ENDA so that we can have a stronger case to make that we need to bring it before the House to the floor for a vote.”

Although he acknowledged that the House has 13 months remaining in the current congressional calendar, Polis said “it would be nice to act sooner” because as Election Day draws near in November 2014, lawmakers will spend less time in Washington.

Polis said his assessment that the House would pass ENDA is based on the 10 Republicans in the Senate who joined all 54 Democrats present in voting for the measure on Thursday. ENDA would prohibit most employers from discriminating against LGBT workers.

“Slightly less than a quarter of Republicans in the Senate voted for it,” Polis said. “That would be similar in the House. About 20 percent of the Republicans would vote for it, which would give it the majority it needed to pass. A number of Republicans have told me on the floor they would vote for it; they’re not ready to add their name as co-sponsors. But they’re strongly supportive of this direction.”

Polis envisions that the House would pass ENDA with “between 20 and 40 votes — possibly more,” which he said was along the lines of the margin for House passage of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization earlier this year. That bill, which included explicit protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, passed the House in February by a 286-138 vote.

“I think [ENDA] would win by a sizable majority in the House as the Violence Against Women Act did, which included gays and lesbians,” Polis said. “I’m confident that it would pass by that margin.”

According to the Polis, the best way to pressure Republicans to bring ENDA to the floor is the continued growth of co-sponsors for the bill.

“We have 5 Republican co-sponsors and gaining 20 or more is the best way to pressure Republican leadership to bring ENDA up for a vote,” Polis said.

Reps. Terry Sewell (D-Ala.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) both signaled this week they’re coming on board as co-sponsors, according to Polis’ office, bringing the total number of sponsors to 196. That’s just 22 votes short of 218 necessary to pass the legislation on the House floor.

By predicting that ENDA would pass the Republican-controlled House if it came to the floor despite the opposition stated by Boehner earlier this week, Polis joins others who’ve make similar predictions like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Human Rights Campaign. Speaking with the Washington Blade prior to the ENDA vote in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), ENDA’s chief sponsor in that chamber, said the Senate-passed version of ENDA “would pass the House.”

Polis said the process for bringing the legislation to the floor would either be House leadership bringing the bill directly to the floor or regular order after a committee vote in the House Education & The Workforce Committee, but Polis said his preference is the former.

“It can go through committee as a House bill, in which case amendments would very likely be added that could change the bill, and it could pass the House, or, the preferred route, which is what we needed on the Violence Against Women Act, is we simply took up the Senate version under a closed rule with no additional amendments and passed it,” Polis said. “That would certainly be the easiest route to achieve a successful result.”

The Education & The Workforce Committee seems as opposed to bringing ENDA to the floor as Boehner is. Even after the calls from Polis and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) to hold a hearing on ENDA, the committee has remained silent and didn’t immediately respond to a request from the Washington Blade to discuss moving the bill following the Senate vote.

Asked if having 10 Senate Republicans vote for ENDA would encourage House Republicans to do the same, Polis emphasized public support for measures barring LGBT workplace discrimination, which one recent poll showed at 69 percent, would be the driving factor.

“I think there are some members of Congress who want to vote for it because their constituents want it and demand it,” Polis said. “There are gay and lesbian families across America, they want to know that they can’t be fired from their jobs because of who they love, and they let their members of Congress know that — Democrat or Republican. That’s why there’s such broad and immense support on the Democratic side and why it has increased on the Republican side.”

Polis was generally dismissive about ideas for workaround strategies to bring ENDA up on the House floor if leadership doesn’t act, but acknowledged a discharge petition is an option if “the normal process” doesn’t work.

“We’ll have to work with them to schedule it for consideration on the floor, or if the committee, the Education & The Workforce Committee, continues to refuse to schedule it, then there is that avenue available called the discharge petition,” Polis said. “It’s not one that often leads to success, that would be more a final attempt, if we’re unable to get it through the normal order.”

Asked whether inserting ENDA into a larger vehicle, such as the defense authorization bill, would be a strategy to consider, Polis maintained all options are on the table.

“We will look at all the legislative tactics available to us, including different vehicles that we can use to protect gay and lesbian Americans, including discharge petitions,” Polis said. “So, all the different legislative tactics under the rules of the House would be considered to move this important legislation forward.”

Polis, who became the first public official to call on President Obama to issue an executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors, said that option remains viable for the White House if the House Republican leadership refuses to bring up the bill.

“We want to protect all people in America, but if Congress is unable to accomplish that, I continue to advocate that the president should move forward to issue an executive order to ban workplace discrimination for federal contractors,” Polis said.

Polis called Michaud after coming out

Also during the interview, Polis addressed the recent announcement from Maine Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud that he’s gay. Polis said the news was a surprise to him.

“I had no idea, and called and congratulated him,” Polis said. “It must have been a heavy cross all these years, having to worry about who knew and who didn’t know. I’m sure it’s an enormous load off of his shoulders, and I think he’ll be an even more effective public servant — both in Congress and potentially as governor of Maine.”

The announcement from Michaud, who’s served in Congress since 2003, ends Polis’ distinction of being the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House. The Colorado Democrat started serving his first term in 2009. Still, Polis remains the longest-sitting member of the House who has served in his seat while being openly gay.

Polis said he hasn’t yet discussed the possibility with Michaud about being a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus as are other openly LGB members of the House, but suggested those conversations may happen when the House goes back into session next week.

“We’ve been in our districts, and I’ll be seeing him for the first time next week,” Polis said. “But when the news came out, I called and we had a nice conversation where I congratulated him and wished him well — and assured him I didn’t think this would be more than a couple days story and said I think people will respect his integrity and his honesty.”

Polis said he hopes Michaud’s announcement will inspire other gay members of Congress to come out.

“There’s not political reprecussions at all for people being honest about their orientation,” Polis said. “Hopefully, members of Congress who have chosen to hold that kind of information close will see that it’s simply easier to live an honest life and be honest with your constituents.”

Asked whether he knows of other closeted gay members of Congress, Polis said he hasn’t asked any of them about their sexual orientation.

“I’ve never asked,” Polis said. “Working with our colleagues, unless they bring it up, you really wouldn’t ask that kind of thing. And I certainly never discussed this before with Mike Michaud.”


Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s



(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’



(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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Emma Corin becomes first nonbinary person featured on cover of American Vogue

The star of The Crown opened up about their identity.



Emma Corrin Jamie Hawkesworth/Vogue

Emma Corin was announced as the cover star of the August edition of Vogue. It’s the first time a nonbinary person is featured on the cover of American Vogue.

Corin posted the cover photo and wrote, “My grin really says it all! A huge honour to be your August cover.”

In early 2021, Corin quietly came out as a queer and nonbinary, changing pronouns to “she/they” in their instagram bio. Currently Corin sticks to pronouns “they/them.”

“I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me,” Corin explained during the interview with Vogue.

Corin stated that they’ve still gone on dates with various kinds of people and set no limit on who they date. “I like people,” they simply said and shrugged.

Corin also shared some of their dating experiences. “My first date with a girl, they were like, Oh! You’re a baby queer!” Corin said, “It was amazing. We actually didn’t end up seeing each other again, but she really gave me the lowdown.”

Besides, Corin was frank about their conflicting feelings towards gender and sexuality issues. “I’m working out all this complex gender and sexuality stuff. And yet, I’m seeing a guy? That feels very juxtaposed, even if I’m very happy.”

Corin is known for playing Diana on the Netflix series The Crown.

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