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Already Ready for Hillary

LGBT activists join campaign to persuade Clinton to run in 2016



Lisa Changadveja, Hillary Clinton, Ready for Hillary, gay news, Washington Blade
Lisa Changadveja, Hillary Clinton, Ready for Hillary, gay news, Washington Blade

Lisa Changadveja was named as Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans Director. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ready for Hillary, an independent super PAC created to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, made its first visible outreach to the LGBT community in October when it set up a booth at the annual LGBT Pride festival in Orlando, Fla.

In a development that Ready for Hillary’s leaders believe is indicative of the sentiment of the LGBT community, the booth was inundated throughout the day by more than 900 people who signed up to get involved with the organization and a possible Clinton presidential campaign.

“We’re here to encourage her to run in 2016 because she has the grassroots support behind her and she has the LGBT community behind her if and when she decides to run,” said Lisa Changadveja, who was named in September as Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans Director.

Changadveja organized the Hillary booth at the Orlando Pride festival. She said she and other Ready for Hillary staffers along with a corps of volunteers and student interns will set up booths at LGBT Pride festivals throughout the country next year.

Under her supervision, Changadveja said, Ready for Hillary will also have a presence at important LGBT conferences and events other than Pride festivals, including the upcoming annual Creating Change Conference in Houston, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The Ready for Hillary outreach to the LGBT community comes at a time when Democratic Party activists and big name party contributors, including entertainment industry figures in Hollywood, have been clamoring for Clinton to enter the 2016 presidential race.

Changadveja, 25, a native of Atlanta, has worked on political campaigns since finishing college. She joined Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007, working on get-out-the-vote efforts in the Nevada Democratic caucus and the Ohio and Indiana Democratic primaries. She worked on campaigns for Democratic candidates and progressive advocacy groups through earlier this year, when she served as a campaign manager for a lesbian candidate for the Texas House of Representatives in the Houston area.

“In her new role, Lisa will harness the enthusiasm of Hillary supporters in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community who are encouraging Hillary to run,” according to a statement released by Ready Hillary.

Although she’ll be traveling across the country, Changadveja works out of the Ready for Hillary headquarters on the fifth floor of a high-rise office building in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va.

“We have about 30 staffers across the nation,” she said. “We have tons of interns and volunteers in our office daily,” she added, noting that many of the interns come from nearby Georgetown University and George Washington University.

In its mid-year finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission, the group reported receiving $1.25 million in contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year and spending $469,000 during that same period to carry out its mission. The report says the organization had $784,641 in cash on hand as of June 30.

The group has announced it adopted a self-imposed cap of $25,000 as the maximum donation from an individual while at the same time it has encouraged and welcomed small donations. According to an internal memo obtained by ABC News in July, Ready for Hillary executive director Adam Parkhomenko reported that 75 percent of all donations received by the group were for $25 or less.

Among the contributors listed on the organization’s FEC report were Andrew Tobias, the gay treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and longtime LGBT rights advocate; Hilary Rosen, the lesbian Democratic activist and businesswoman; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers who’s a lesbian and longtime LGBT rights advocate.

Gay rights attorney and political commentator Richard Socarides, who served as White House liaison to the LGBT community under President Bill Clinton, said he, too, wants Hillary Clinton to run in 2016.

“I hope she runs,” he said. “I’ve been helping Ready for Hillary informally. I think she would receive overwhelming support from the LGBT community. And it is richly deserved.”

Changadveja said most LGBT Democrats are familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record of support on LGBT issues beginning with her tenure as first lady and her role as a U.S. senator from New York through her stint as Secretary of State under the Obama administration.

For those not familiar with Clinton’s record, Changadveja is happy to fill them in.

“Hillary has been very active in the LGBT community and she’s been a longtime friend,” she said she tells potential supporters. In addition to Clinton’s support for LGBT rights legislation and marriage equality, her support for LGBT employees at the State Department, and her call as Secretary of State for equating LGBT rights with human rights, Changadveja adds a lesser known part of Clinton’s LGBT rights portfolio.

“She was the first first lady to march in a Gay Pride parade,” she said.

D.C. gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who backed Clinton in her unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, said he and many other LGBT Democrats in the D.C. area are excited about a Clinton run in 2016.

“They have over a million people who ‘liked’ them on Facebook,” Rosenstein said of the Ready for Hillary PAC.

D.C.-area supporters of Hillary Clinton are being invited to a “grassroots” fundraiser for Ready For Hillary scheduled for Dec. 12 at Look Lounge, a K Street, N.W. club. The admission price, Changadveja said, is $20.16, a figure the organization uses to encourage small donors.

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Over 100 LGBTQ-themed books in a Florida school district labeled with advisory warning

They warn: “this book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students.”



Advisory Notice (via Twitter)

A southwest Florida district put parental “advisory notice” on over 100 books, many of which are race or LGBTQ-themed. 

A great number of books in Collier County Public Schools, either digital or physical, now have warning labels writing “Advisory notice to parents,” according to an NBC report,

The label, tweeted by nonprofit free-speech-promoting group PEN American, states, “This Advisory Notice shall serve to inform you that this book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students. This book will also be identified in the Destiny system with the same notation. The decision as to whether this book is suitable or unsuitable shall be the decision of the parent(s) who has the right to oversee his/her child’s education consistent with state law.” 

Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which means to fight book banning, told NBC that she had a call from Elizabeth Alves, the associate superintendent of teaching and learning for Collier County Public Schools. In the call, Alves told her that the district added the labels starting in February. 

These measures, which Alves described as a “compromise,” happened after the district’s legal representative talked with the Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group which initiated a “Porn in Schools Report” project last year. The report included a list of books that “promote gender self-identification and same-sex marriage” as well as titles that include “indecent and offensive material,” as the group explained. 

Chad Oliver, the Collier County Public Schools spokesperson, on the other hand offered a different story. 

Oliver sent an email to NBC News and said, “Based upon advice from the General Counsel, we placed advisory notices on books about which parents and community members had expressed concern and in accordance with the recently passed Parents’ Bill of Rights Law (HB 241).” 

The law referred by Oliver is also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

According to PEN America, there are 110 labeled books in total, and the list greatly overlaps with the one Florida Citizens Alliance inquired about with Collier County Public Schools. 

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney introduces bill to make monkeypox testing free

Health insurers would be required to cover costs



Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has introduced legislation to make monkeypox testing free to the public. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), amid the ongoing monkeypox affecting gay and bisexual men, has introduced legislation in the U.S. House seeking to make testing for disease free to the public.

Maloney, one of seven openly gay members of Congress and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement the measure, called the No Cost for Monkeypox Testing Act, would testing amid the monkeypox outbreak would be accessible to all.

“It is critical that we eliminate cost as a barrier to testing for monkeypox to ensure we can identify cases and prevent further spread,” Maloney said. “This legislation takes the lessons we learned from past public health emergencies and protects those at risk of contracting monkeypox by making tests accessible to everyone.”

The legislation would require private health insurers as well as Medicare and Medicaid to cover the costs of monkeypox testing at no expense to the patients, either through deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance.

The bill introduction comes the week after the Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency and the same it has issued new guidance to enhance to the accessing of existing vaccines doses amid criticism federal officials were too slow in distributing shots.

The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the Centers for Disease Control seeking comment on the legislation. Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra said Tuesday the federal government has the capacity to conduct an estimated 80,000 tests each week.

Maloney has been representing New York’s 18th congressional district, but after redistricting is now seeking re-election in the 17th district. Amid controversy over a potential showdown between Maloney and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who’s Black, another openly gay member of Congress and the current representative of that district, Jones has since opted to run for re-election in the New York’s 10th congressional district. Maloney is now running unopposed in the 17th.

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Biden administration shifts monkeypox vaccine approach amid shortage

Health experts sees new guidance as mixed bag



The Biden administration has changed its guidance on monkeypox vaccines to enhance availability amid the shortage.

The Biden administration, amid criticism it was slow to act on the monkeypox outbreak and still not meeting the demand for vaccines as the number of cases continues to grow, has announced a shift in guidance for implementation of the shot in an effort to enhance availability.

As the estimated number of monkeypox cases in the United States reaches 8,900, top health officials announced the new move on Tuesday as part of a decision by Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra to issue a determination under Section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to justify emergency use authorization of vaccines. The announcement follows up on the Biden administration’s announcement last week declaring the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency.

Becerra said in a conference call with reporters the 564 determination and change in approach to vaccines would “boost and strengthen” the Biden administration’s response to monkeypox, which has overwhelmingly affected gay and bisexual men, and “safely accelerates and multiplies our supply of effective vaccines by up to fivefold.”

“Today’s action also reaffirms HHS and this administration’s commitment to using all available resources and capabilities to end the monkeypox outbreak and provide the best possible care to those suffering from the virus,” Becerra added.

The new vaccine approach, which may may be considered minor to non-medical observers, would change injections of the JYNNEOS vaccine from the subcutaneous route (delivery of the vaccine under the fat layer underneath the skin) to the intradermal route (delivery of the vaccine into the layer of skin just underneath the top layer). In theory, that would allow for greater accessibility of monkeypox vaccines as it increases the number of doses from each vial of vaccine.

The change was made amid criticism the Biden administration failed to meet the demand for vaccines during the outbreak and geographic inequity as certain metropolitan areas of the country have more access to vaccines than other places.

As The New York Times reported last week, the Biden administration has faced criticism for not moving quickly enough in acquiring and distributing vaccines, including bulk stocks already owned by the U.S. government manufactured in Denmark by Bavaria Nordic now being given to other clients.

“The government is now distributing about 1.1 million doses, less than a third of the 3.5 million that health officials now estimate are needed to fight the outbreak,” the Times reported. “It does not expect the next delivery, of half a million doses, until October. Most of the other 5.5 million doses the United States has ordered are not scheduled to be delivered until next year, according to the federal health agency.”

Biden officials, nonetheless, touted the numbers of vaccines and tests in response to monkeypox as a positive, acknowledging the 1.1 million vaccines being made available as well as delivery of more than 620,000 of those doses, deployment more than 15,000 courses of the monkeypox treatment and increasing the country’s capacity to administer tests on a weekly basis to around 80,000. Meanwhile, officials also promoted the change in approach in vaccines as means to allow greater accessibility to the shots.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, promoted during the conference call the use of intradermal injections and said they’re “often used for TB skin tests and have been used for other types of vaccines.”

Although Walensky conceded some health care providers “may not be as familiar with intradermal administration” as they are with subcutaneous injection, she said CDC would make additional guidance materials available, including a clinician alert message to the Association of State & Territorial Health Officials, outreach to key clinician partners and an education resource video. The change in guidance, Walensky said, is for vaccine implementation in adults, but children — where single digit monkeypox cases have been reported — would continue to receive vaccination in the traditional subcutaneous approach.

But health experts aren’t responding with overwhelming praise to the decision to change the guidance on vaccine implementation from subcutaneous injections to intradermal injections, expressing concerns the new approach may be insufficient.

Jennifer Kates, director of global health & HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, was among those saying the change in guidance on vaccine approach was a mixed bag and told the Blade more data is needed to evaluate the effectiveness.

“As we saw with COVID, using these authorities in the context of public health emergencies is an important strategy,” Kates said. “In this case, this step will significantly expand access to vaccines for those most at risk. However, there remain questions about the effectiveness of this approach — real world studies are needed — and challenges to translating vaccines into vaccinations.”

Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research (CBER) at the Food & Drug Administration, was asked during the conference call with reporters to respond to concerns the change in guidance was insufficient and downplayed the novelty of implementing the vaccines through the intradermal route as “not at all new.”

“In fact, the reason why the Bavaria part of this equation comes from the fact that in Germany, this vaccine was given intradermally originally, in an effort to replicate the original version of the smallpox vaccine,” Marks said. “It’s been given to thousands of people intradermally, so this isn’t the first time it’s been done.”

Walkensky said the intradermal vaccine approach has been implemented amid policies among localities to implement a one-dose approach to the JYNNEOS vaccine through the subcutaneous route. (The D.C. government is one of the jurisdictions that had enacted a one-dose approach amid a vaccine shortage.) There is not data, Walkensky said, to support that approach and “in fact, if anything, there are data saying that that is not protective enough.”

“So by using this alternative strategy of intradermal dosing, not only do we have more doses, but we actually allow people to get two doses in a way that shows immunologic response that’s superimposable from the subcutaneous dosing,” Walkensky said. “So we have more doses, and in fact, we have the ability to doubly vaccinate people so that they get the protection that they need.”

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