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Months after court ruling, DOMA issues remain unresolved

Social Security, veterans benefits and family leave not flowing in non-marriage equality states

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Eric Holder, United States Department of Justice, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT Pride
Eric Holder, United States Justice Department, Barack Obama Administration, Lincoln Memorial, the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, civil rights, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has pledged to extend federal benefits to married gay couples to the furthest extent possible under the law. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the Obama administration has been rolling out on a continual basis new federal benefits for married same-sex couples — but access to some benefits remains uncertain months after the decision.

While the administration has afforded a preponderance of the 1,138 federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, other benefits — including Social Security, veterans and family leave benefits — are still in limbo for those living in non-marriage equality states. For these benefits, federal policy looks to the place of residence, not the place of celebration, in determining whether a person is married.

The policy of the Obama administration has been to expand benefits to married same-sex couples to the furthest extend possible under the law following the court decision against DOMA. That position was formalized last week in a memo from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder extending certain federal benefits under the purview of the Justice Department to married gay couples.

“It is the Department’s policy, to the extent federal law permits, to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, and to recognize valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated,” Holder writes.

Thus far, the administration has extended numerous benefits to married same-sex couples related to taxes, immigration, federal employee benefits, employer-provided pensions and, most recently, the ability to refuse to testify against a spouse in federal court — even if these couples live in non-marriage equality states. The Justice Department has also ceased enforcement of a provision in Title 38, which governs veterans benefits, that independently defines marriage in opposite-sex terms.

But things get dicier when it comes to other benefits where the law governing them looks to the state law where a couple resides, rather than the state law where the couple was married in determining whether a marriage is legitimate. Does the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling against DOMA mean that these portions of these laws should also not be enforced, or are they so far removed from the ruling they require a legislative fix?

One such issue is with Social Security benefits. Although the Social Security Administration is processing retirement and survivor benefits for same-sex couples living in marriage-equality states, for the time being, it’s placing applications on hold for married same-sex couples living in places that don’t their recognize their union.

Kia Anderson, a Social Security spokesperson, said work coordinated with the Justice Department is still underway to determine whether her agency can recognize these same-sex marriages for benefits purposes.

“We are working with the Department of Justice to develop and implement policy and processing instructions on this issue,” Anderson said. “However, we encourage people to apply right away for benefits, even if they aren’t sure they are eligible. Applying now will protect against the loss of any potential benefits.”

Yet another benefit on hold for married same-sex couples living in non-marriage equality states is veterans benefits, which include disability benefits, survivor benefits and joint burial at a veteran’s cemetery for the spouses of former service members. As with Social Security law, a portion of veterans’ law, 103(c) of Title 38, looks to state of residence, not the state of celebration, to determine whether a couple is married.

Genevieve Billia, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said her department is still reviewing the issue of these benefits with the Justice Department.

“VA is working closely with the Department of Justice to develop guidance to process cases involving same-sex spousal benefits, and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all our nation’s veterans,” Billia said. “Our commitment to provide all veterans and their families with their earned care and benefits will continue to be our focus as VA implements the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor, and the president’s direction on Title 38.”

The continued enforcement of 103(c) of Title 38 to discriminate against gay couples has been a cause for concern for U.S. senators. Last month, seven senators — led by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) — called on the Obama administration to stop enforcing the law in a way that blocks gay veterans in same-sex marriages from receiving spousal benefits.

Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association, called the issue “a top concern” among veterans belonging to the LGBT military group.

“While we understand it takes time to review existing policies and laws in light of the Windsor decision, for the sake of our veterans and their families, our hope is that the administration will take swift action in extending full and equal VA benefits no matter what state the veteran and their family live in,” Peters said. “These veterans have earned these benefits and there is no valid reason why they should continue to be denied them.”

The American Military Partner Association has launched an online petition calling on Holder to stop enforcing U.S. code governing veterans benefits in a way that discriminates against same-sex couples. According to the organization, a little more than 1,000 people had signed the petition as of Wednesday.

Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed confidence the administration would be able to come to a conclusion on these issues as it has done with other benefits in the aftermath of the DOMA ruling.

“Federal agencies have moved with commendable speed to extend recognition to married same-sex couples, and to do so in a way that recognizes that these marriages don’t dissolve when a couple crosses state lines,” Thompson said. “While more work remains, including with SSA and the VA, we are confident that these issues can be properly addressed.”

The Justice Department didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the pace with which these benefits are being rolled out or when these outstanding issues will be resolved.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, touted the administration’s work so far in implementing benefits as he acknowledged “some work remains.”

“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor, the president directed the attorney general to work with the Cabinet to review federal law to ensure the decision and its implications for federal benefits and obligations are implemented swiftly and smoothly,” Inouye said. “That process is ongoing, and while some work remains, the administration has worked to affirm the principle that all couples who are legally married receive full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.”

Should the administration determine it must continue enforcing these laws, a legislative fix from Congress would be necessary to ensure these benefits can flow to gay couples. For the Social Security benefits, that would mean passage of the Social Security Equality Act, sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanchez in the House. For the veterans benefits, that would mean passage of the Charlie Morgan Act, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in the Senate.

The federal benefits of marriage across the board would be assured for married gay couples regardless of where they live after passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in the House and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in the Senate.

A Senate Judiciary Committee aide told the Blade last year that a Senate hearing was in the works for fall 2013 on the legislation. Although the hearing never took place, a Senate aide told the Blade plans are still underway for a hearing.

“Chairman Leahy continues to push for timely and comprehensive implementation of the Windsor decision, including last week’s landmark announcement that the Justice Department will treat all lawfully married couples equally in federal legal matters,” the Leahy aide said. “Chairman Leahy is committed to taking discrimination out of our laws, and he is working to schedule a hearing and build support for the Respect for Marriage Act.”

Not all the outstanding issues in the aftermath of the DOMA ruling are related to law. Benefits are blocked from flowing to married same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states under the Family & Medical Leave Act not because of statute, but by regulation, which the administration could change at any time without action from Congress.

And that change is already taking place. Last last year, the Department of Labor announced it was changing the regulations for the Family & Medical Leave Act — along with regulations for a slew of other laws — to ensure those benefits flow to married same-sex couples living in non-marriage equality states. According to Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert, the change will be implemented in March.

Laura Fortman, principal deputy administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage & Hour Division, wrote about the proposed change in a little-noticed blog post at the time.

“No one should have to choose between succeeding at work and being a loving family caregiver,” Fortman said. “The FMLA’s protections help ensure that people have the opportunity to be both and our proposed rulemaking is an important step in ensuring the law keeps up with the needs of all families in this country.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said her organization looks forward to the day when the DOMA decision is “fully implemented” by the federal government.

“Steady progress is being made and more is to come,” Carey said. “For example, we are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that health insurance plans offer coverage for same-sex spouses regardless of where they live. Big picture, we fully expect this landmark decision to continue to positively impact the lives of LGBT people and their families for years to come and in ways that we haven’t even imagined.”

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Michael Bedwell

    February 19, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    But Obama LOVES us! Don't people understand that's all that matters?

  2. Brett Jones

    February 19, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    My husband and I are actually experiencing this right now with the VA. Apparently they had to decide if our marriage was eligible for a VA loan so that we could purchase a home together while using both of our incomes.

    I think that this is a FAIL on the VA's behalf as it has been several months and these benefits are still holding up our rights. I am trying to make a statement as i hope that the next couple will not have a hold up like we did.

  3. Stefan Varner

    February 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Social Security Benefits ARE "Federal Matters".

  4. Stefan Varner

    February 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    The Social Security Administration IS a Federal Entity and payments made by gay citizens are currently only afforded to straight citizens (in non-equality states)

  5. Ron Sonoma

    February 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    We’ve been waiting over 6 months for the SSA to come out with a compete set of procedures for processing non-standard Medicare applications. All they say is that they are working with the DOJ and the procedures will be out shortly. Legally married in California, this shouldn’t be an issue.

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Politics

Bob Dole dies at 98; anti-LGBTQ record is part of his legacy

Opposition to LGBTQ rights a part of former Senate majority leader’s legacy

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U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) via 60 Minutes archival interview with Steve Kroft 1993 (Screenshot YouTube)

In a tweet Sunday morning the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced the death of former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) at the age of 98. Reaction was immediate from longtime friends, political allies of the Senator and others including President Biden who served with him in the U.S. Senate.

In a statement released by the White House, the president said of his friend and former Senate colleague; “Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves. […] Bob was a man to be admired by Americans. He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor, and patriotism for all time.”

The tributes to Dole that poured in Sunday from every segment of government, political, public and personal reflected his lifelong career of public service to Americans including his championing the rights of disabled Americans playing a key role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Dole himself was disabled, having been grievously wounded in combat while serving in the U.S. Army in the Italian campaign during World War II.

Dole earned two Purple Hearts and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service, but doctors weren’t sure he’d survive. He was hospitalized for three years. He suffered infections, grueling therapy, several operations and in one instance developed a blood clot that nearly killed him.

He spent the rest of his life struggling with disabilities caused by his war injuries, most noticeably loss of the use of his right arm.

After his recovery and convalescence he enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson on the GI Bill, and later transferred to Washburn University in his home state of Kansas. He graduated in 1952.

After college and while still in law school, Dole became active in local politics in his hometown of Russell, Kan. In his first run for elected office he won a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. He served from 1951 to 1953 until he ran and was elected Russell County Attorney. He remained in that position until 1961, when he was first elected to Congress as a Republican.

In what he later said publicly were the two most important votes while serving in Congress, in 1964 he voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act, and in 1965 voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act.

During the turbulent era of the 1960’s marked by the Civil Rights movement and opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict, Dole ran for the U.S. Senate in 1969 and was was elected after defeating his fellow Republican, former Kansas Gov. Bill Avery, in the primary race.

From Jan. 3, 1969, until his departure from the Senate on June 11, 1996, Dole built a career that established his place as a power broker and deal maker in Republican politics with considerable influence across both parties garnering the respect of Democratic leaders including the late-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

In the early 1970s, Dole served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973 including during the 1972 election and Watergate break-in and he resided at the Watergate apartments at the time of the break-in.

An ardent supporter of then-President Richard Nixon, Dole stood by him during the Watergate scandal often clashing with other Republicans leaders who ultimately convinced Nixon to resign the office. In later years Dole still praised Nixon’s record as president, serving as a eulogist at the former president’s state funeral in 1994.

In a commentary for Politico magazine on April 27, 2017, Dole wrote; “I can say with confidence that the beginning of the 21st century is still the Age of Nixon; we’re still living in a world he played a role in shaping. Though our country has changed in many ways in the 43 years since Nixon’s resignation and 23 years since his death, the basic domestic policies and international order that he brought to fruition remain in place.”

While Dole was often seen as a moderate by some, in practice he was a hard nosed partisan Republican sometimes echoing Nixon’s attack impulses. In 1976, then-President Gerald Ford selected him as his running mate at the Republican National Convention.

During the Ford-Dole campaign run he blamed the deaths and injuries of 1.7 million American soldiers on “Democrat wars,” and derided the Democratic Party challenger, Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, as no more than a “Southern-fried McGovern.”

“I figured up the other day, if we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit,” Dole said.

In a bit of political irony, he had partnered with U.S. Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), who Nixon defeated in a landslide election in 1972, to help pass legislation making food stamps more accessible.

In 1980 he made a run for the White House on his own, ultimately deciding to withdraw after a poor showing in the Republican primary in New Hampshire against former California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Dole was re-elected to his third term as senator that year.

Dole went on to serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 1981 to 1985, and in November of 1984, he was elected Senate majority leader. He then made another attempt for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, during that campaign his reputation as a political hardliner was cemented during an interview with then-NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

Dole exploded in apparent anger over a question posed about a television advert being run by the campaign of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, his Republican challenger for the nomination, that accused Dole of “straddling” on taxes. He snapped at Brokaw, saying Bush should “stop lying about my record.” He beat Bush in Iowa, but fell short again in New Hampshire and again he withdrew from the race.

During that campaign, the New York Times reported Dole strongly disagreed today with Congressman Jack Kemp on AIDS testing and urged that the issue of AIDS be kept out of the 1988 presidential race.

”To try to make this a Democratic or Republican issue is a loser,” said Dole. ”It’s a loser for the people involved, and it’s a loser for the people we’re trying to protect.”

On Feb. 22, 1989, during the session of the 101st Congress, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It had previously been introduced in the 99th and 100th Congresses. The act would require the Justice Department to collect and publish data about crimes motivated by hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Then on June 27, 1989, the House passed the act by a 368-47 vote. It moved on to the Senate where as the then-minority leader, Dole signed on as a co-sponsor.

On Feb. 8, 1990,  the Senate passed the Act by a 92-4 vote and sent it to President George H.W. Bush who signed the bill into law on April 23, 1990.

The 1994 mid-term elections gave Republicans control of both the Senate and the House, mainly due to the fallout from President Bill Clinton’s policies and Dole became the senate majority leader for a second time.

Dole again decided to make another run for the presidency in 1995 and it was in the lead-in to that campaign his anti-LGBTQ positions on military service by gay and lesbians and same-sex marriage became clear.

In the Fall of 1995, Dole returned a $1,000 dollar campaign contribution from the Log Cabin Club, a pro-gay Republican organization that is now known as Log Cabin Republicans. That caused Congress’ only openly gay Republican member, U.S. Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.), to castigate Dole publicly in a letter that read; “One need not be anti-gay just to prove you are pro-family,” Gunderson wrote. “I know of no gay Republican (and frankly few gay Democrats) who seek any special class or privileges. All we seek is the end to blatant discrimination in America.”

Dole’s campaign returned the money, saying the Republican presidential contender was “100 percent” opposed to the Log Cabin Club’s agenda.

Gunderson, in his letter, also noted he had supported Dole’s past presidential efforts and had endorsed him before being asked. When first told of the donation controversy, Gunderson said he assumed his friends had mistaken Dole’s campaign for that of “other decidedly bigoted candidates. I was embarrassed to learn I was wrong,” he said.

Gunderson questioned whether Dole would reject the support of anyone who was gay. “If this is so, do you intend to now reject my support and request those on your staff who happen to be gay to resign?”

Eight months later in early May of 1996, in an effort to shore up support of his campaign from the Christian conservative movement within the Republican party, Dole signed on as the first co-sponsor of the Senate version of the Defense of Marriage Act. The legislation barred federal benefits for same-sex couples while allowing states the right to refuse recognition of such marriages that are recognized in other states.

In no small bit of irony one of the responses to Dole’s actions came from the Log Cabin Republicans. “The intolerant wing of the Republican Party is rearing it’s ugly head again,” said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. “What Dole is missing here is that he already has deep support among religious conservatives. There is a growing perception of the GOP Congress as intolerant, and Dole’s action yesterday only enhances such a view.”

Dole’s position on same-sex marriage was later derided by the Human Rights Campaign in an advert campaign, run only in the San Diego market during the GOP convention, that took aim at prominent Republicans who opposed same-sex marriages, but whose own marriages were not always accepted by mainstream society.

The HRC ads called out presidential nominee Dole and other Republicans for “wasting our time” and “trying to score political points by attacking gay Americans.”

One spot featured pictures of Dole with Elizabeth, his second wife, and U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) with his Asian American wife, Wendy. The ad notes that divorced people and couples of different ethnicities have not always been accepted wholly by society.

In the discussions and the political back and forth leading up to what ultimately became the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military, colloquially referred to as “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell,” “Serving is not a right,” Dole said. “It is a privilege in the United States. And there are certain restrictions.”

Dole, who had resigned from the Senate on June 11, 1996 to run his presidential campaign lost that fall. Clinton who was an incumbent, won in a 379–159 Electoral College landslide, capturing 49.2 percent of the vote against Dole’s 40.7 percent and Ross Perot’s 8.4 percent.

Dole at age 73 was the last World War II veteran to have been the presidential nominee of a major party. In 1997, months after losing the election Dole was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Clinton.

“Through it, we honor not just his individual achievement but his clear embodiment in the common values and beliefs that join us as a people,” Clinton said. “Values and beliefs that he has spent his life advancing. Sen. Dole, a grateful nation presents this award, with respect for the example you have set for Americans today and for Americans and generations yet to come.”

In the years that followed his political career Dole served as national chairman of the World War II Memorial raising funds for its construction. He was a popular spokesperson for Viagra, Visa, Dunkin’ Donuts and along with pop singer, Britney Spears, Pepsi-Cola. He continued to speak out for disabled Americans, and also established The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, housed on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kan.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed him to help lead a bipartisan commission to investigate a neglect scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Then alongside his wife Elizabeth Dole, in 2012, established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which is designed to empower, support and honor the nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers.

Despite his many accomplishments, in 2014 he still attacked the rights of LGBTQ Americans to be married. Dole suggested that fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, didn’t support ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because Portman, who had a gay son, had come out in favor of gay marriage, the Daily Beast and other media outlets reported in July of 2014.

Dole also supported former President Donald Trump and endorsed Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 campaigns. In an interview with USA Today conducted for his 98th Birthday, Dole said he was “Trumped out”, and that Trump had lost the 2020 election despite his claims to the contrary. “He lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, Dole stated, adding that Trump “never had one bit of fraud in all those lawsuits he filed and statements he made.”

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60 Minutes Archive: Bob Dole (Steve Kroft, 1993)

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Víctor Grajeda, primer diputado suplente abiertamente gay, llega al Congreso de Honduras

Sampedraño hace historia al ser electo por más de 100,000 votos

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Víctor Grajeda (Foto cortesía de Víctor Grajeda)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 30 de noviembre.

TEGUCIGALPA, HondurasMiles de personas LGBTIQ+ votaron este 28 de noviembre contra el Partido Nacional, que ha gobernado Honduras más de 12 años y en los últimos tres meses utilizó una campaña de odio, miedo y discriminación hacia la diversidad sexual y el derecho a decidir de las mujeres.

El voto de la diversidad sexual de Honduras benefició mayoritariamente a la candidata del partido de oposición Libertad y Refundación (Libre), Xiomara Castro, quien es considerada la casi segura ganadora de los comicios del 2021 en Honduras por más de 20 puntos arriba de su rival, el candidato por el Partido Nacional, Nasry Asfura.

El triunfo de Xiomara representa la esperanza de un cambio en temas de políticas y leyes, pero también un avance en derechos humanos, dijo a Reportar sin Miedo el presidente de la juventud del Partido Libre, Kevin Ramos.

“Vamos a construir una nueva era. Fuera los escuadrones de la muerte. Fuera la corrupción. Fuera el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado. Fuera las ZEDE. No más pobreza y más miseria en Honduras. Hasta la victoria siempre. Unido, pueblo. Juntos vamos a transformar este país”, expresó Castro en su primer discurso. Ella sería la primera presidenta del país en 200 años de independencia.

En el proceso electoral de 2021 sólo participaron cinco candidatxs LGBTIQ+. Por el departamento de Cortés, como aspirantes a diputado propietario se lanzaron Fredy Fúnez, Odalis Sarmiento por el PINU y Víctor Grajeda como diputado suplente del Partido Libre. Ninguna persona trans participó en el proceso.

Grajeda va encabezando los cuatro primeros lugares de las diputaciones de Cortés junto con su compañera de fórmula Silvia Ayala. Él es decorador y tiene un negocio junto con su pareja.

“En mi tiempo libre trabajo en decoración”, agrega este hombre abiertamente gay nacido en cuna humilde, quien tuvo que trabajar desde pequeño para sobrevivir en la violenta ciudad de San Pedro Sula.

Víctor lamenta la falta de diversidad que ofrecen los partidos políticos hondureños. Para él, la oportunidad de participar en este proceso es única. “No podía dejarla atrás. Nos permite crear una representación digna y transparente”. No ser un político de clóset es, para Víctor, desafiar al sistema. “Busco abrir espacios y descartar la disciminación por la orientación o la identidad sexual”, asegura.

Víctor aprovechó para agradecerle a la diputada electa Silvia Ayala por incluirlo en su plantilla ganadora. “Gracias a Silvia por hacerme parte de su fórmula”, dice el nuevo diputado suplente. “Ella desde el principio confió en mí y fue muy inclusiva al hacerme su candidato suplente”.

Grajeda promete promover leyes que penalicen los crímenes de odio, así como la creación de unidades especializadas para la investigación de estos delitos. Entre sus promesas también están crear programas de salud mental.

Al contrario de otros partidos políticos hondureños, Libertad y Refundación se ha caracterizado por abrir más sus puertas a la inclusión de personas LGBTIQ+ como la activista Kendra Jordany o la abogada Vienna Ávila, a quien Libre nombró secretaria de la diversidad sexual.

“Ciudadanas y ciudadanos, le apostamos a que Honduras se pueda convertir en un país de esperanza”, dijo Kevin Ramos. “Nosotros, como parte de la diversidad sexual, esperamos que cumpla sus promesas de ofrecer derechos a nuestra población”.

El fin de un gobierno de discriminación y odio

Con su voto, la población diversa pone un alto a los gobiernos nacionalistas, que en más de una década no han garantizado derechos para las personas trans y diversas.

El discurso de odio se pronuncia desde la misma cúpula del gobierno nacionalista encabezado por el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández. El mandatario llamó “enemigos de la independencia” a lxs miembrxs de la diversidad sexual de Honduras en un tristemente célebre discurso por el bicentenario de la independencia, el 15 de septiembre de 2021. 

Un reflejo de la visión heterocispatriarcal de los partidos políticos en Honduras es la cantidad de candidatxs de la diversidad sexual en los comicios de este año.

Entretanto, en Francisco Morazán, Miguel Caballero Leiva se presentó como aspirante a una diputación por el partido Unificación Democrática. Sin embargo, todavía no hay resultados de las posiciones electorales para saber el destino de estxs candidatxs.

La discriminación anti-LGBTIQ+ ejercida por el partido en el poder continúa a pesar de la sentencia condenatoria por el transfeminicidio de Vicky Hernández cometido la noche del 28 al 29 de junio de 2009.

Hernández, defensora de derechos humanos, se convirtió en la primera víctima del golpe de Estado que marcó la historia reciente de Honduras. El golpe de 2009 derrocó al entonces presidente Manuel Zelaya, esposo de la actual candidata presidencial Xiomara Castro.

Ni el gobierno de facto del empresario del transporte Roberto Micheletti ni las administraciones nacionalistas de Porfirio Lobo y Juan Orlando Hernández aclararon o buscaron castigar el crimen contra Vicky. Por el contrario, durante los 12 años de poder nacionalista aumentó desmedidamente la cantidad de crímenes de odio en Honduras.

Desde el 2009 hasta la fecha hay un registro de 389 muertes violentas contras personas LGBTI+. Solo en 2021 han sido asesinadas 16 personas: diez gays, tres transexuales y tres lesbianas, reporta Cattrachas en su Observatorio de Muertes Violentas.

Hubo un destello de esperanza a mediados de este año, cuando por fin la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos condenó al Estado de Honduras por el transfeminicidio de Vicky Hernández.

“Esta es la apertura para que vean que ninguna lucha es exclusiva de un grupo de personas”, dijo en aquella ocasión la coordinadora de Cattrachas, Indyra Mendoza.

Sin embargo, aunque el Estado dijo que iba a cumplir con la sentencia por el caso de Vicky Hernández, hasta el momento no ha pedido perdón a la familia ni cumplido con una serie de reparaciones de la condena de la Corte IDH.

Algunxs no pudieron votar contra el nacionalismo

A pesar del deseo de las personas trans de usar su voto para sacar del poder al Partido Nacional, algunas de ellas se quedaron sin esa posibilidad.

La directora de Oprouce, la líder trans Sasha Rodríguez, no pudo votar porque nunca recibió el nuevo Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI).

Igual que Rodríguez, miles de personas estaban habilitadas para votar, pero el Registro Nacional de las Personas no les entregó sus nuevas identidades, sin las cuales no podían votar, según las nuevas reglas electorales.

Los usuarios de redes sociales comentaron que los problemas en la entrega de los DNI eran otros de los trucos del oficialismo para seguir en el poder fraguando un supuesto fraude en las votaciones del 28 de noviembre. 

“El triunfo de Xiomara es una reivindicación como ciudadana”, dijo Sasha Rodríguez. “Ella ha sido una aliada de la población diversa y las personas LGBTIQ+ hablaron. Ya se cansaron de 12 años en el poder del Partido Nacional y su líder Juan Orlando Hernández, que se unió con los fundamentalistas religiosos, en especial los evangélicos, para seguir difundiendo mentiras y discriminaciones hacia todas”.

Rodríguez recordó el discurso de Hernández del pasado 15 de septiembre, donde manifestó su rechazo a los derechos de las personas diversas. En medio del ambiente electoral en Honduras asesinaron a Tatiana García en Santa Rosa de Copán. Ella era militante del partido de gobierno. También más de 10 personas trans sufrieron discriminación o fueron víctimas de agresiones.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Red Lésbica Cattrachas (@redlesbicacattrachas)

La Red Lésbica Cattrachas denunció ante el Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) que el Partido Nacional junto a los antiderechos utilizaban sus discursos de odio para estigmatizar a las personas LGBTI+ y mujeres.

El CNE admitió el 23 de noviembre su denuncia por prejuicio de la dignidad humana, por promover el odio y la discriminación a grupos históricamente colocados en situación de vulnerabilidad.

La violencia en Honduras se extiende a lxs candidatxs pertenecientes a los grupos LGBTIQ+. El Observatorio Político de Cattrachas registró, hasta el 21 de noviembre, 33 muertes violentas de candidatas y candidatos. También denunció una serie de ataques y amenazas a diferentes sectores.

En un evento público, la coordinadora de la red, Indyra Mendoza, pidió un alto a la violencia política. “No hay elecciones libres si lxs candidatxs tienen miedo. Necesitamos que el país entero rechace las agresiones, necesitamos que defender derechos humanos no sea una condena”.

Cattrachas también denunció al exsecretario del presidente Hernández, el ministro Ebal Díaz, quien utilizó en sus campañas el video de una niña con discapacidad para manipular la opinión pública sobre el tema del aborto. «Es cruel que hagan política atacando a las mujeres y a las personas con discapacidad», señaló la red lésbica.

Violencia antes y durante las elecciones

El más reciente caso de violencia contra la población diversa de Honduras es el de Emeli Rachel Villafranca (23), quien fue salvajemente golpeada por cuatro hombres en Tegucigalpa, denunció la organización Arcoíris. A tres días antes de las elecciones, más de 20 organizaciones LGBTIQ+ presentaron una propuesta de reforma de ley ante el Registro Nacional de las Personas para que reconozca el cambio de nombre de las personas. Se recogieron 4,600 firmas a nivel nacional. En el marco de este evento se realizó una marcha exigiendo justicia, alto a la violencia y a los discursos de odio.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Casa Arcoiris (@arcoirishn)

Personas LGBTIQ+ monitorean las elecciones

Al menos 30 mujeres trans distribuidas en la capital Tegucigalpa, en el centro de Honduras, y San Pedro Sula, en la costa norte, realizaron un proceso de observación ciudadana en centros de votación masivos. Las observadoras registraron incidencias de discriminación, problemas de identificación con el nombre registro al nacer y otras anomalías.

La directora de la Asociación Muñecas de Arcoíris, JLo Córdova, denunció que en su centro de votación sufrió discriminación al ejercer el sufragio porque fue llamada públicamente con el nombre registrado en su DNI. “Esto no debería ser. Recomendamos mejor capacitación en temas de diversidad y género a lxs integrantes de las mesas electorales”.

Por otro lado, tanto en San Pedro Sula y Tegucigalpa, más de 15 personas de diferentes organizaciones LGBTI+ realizaron el trabajo de observadoras electorales nacionales.

La activista lesbiana Seidy Irías dijo a Reportar sin Miedo que un país que no considera los derechos humanos de las personas con mayor vulnerabilidad no es una república. “Luchemos por un gobierno visible para todas las poblaciones”, dijo Seidy.

En las redes sociales se promovió el #VotoConOrgullo y la respuesta fue masiva. “Las juventudes demostramos que no somos de cristal, sino de diamantes en este proceso electoral, el cual fue un triunfo contundente para la democracia pacífica y participativa”, expresó el director de Honduras Diversa, Néstor Hernández.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Reportar Sin Miedo (@reportarsinmiedo)

El triunfo de Xiomara Castro representa para muchxs el rompimiento de una brecha de desigualdad. «Hoy, más de una niña se levantó creyendo que también puede ser presidenta», dijo el influencer Denisol Mehujael.

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Politics

Victory Fund honors Maine House speaker at D.C. conference

Ryan Fecteau is gay Catholic University alum

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Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau accepts the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award at the Victory Fund International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 4, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Victory Fund on Saturday honored Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau on the last day of its International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Fecteau — an openly gay Catholic University of America alum — won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014. He became the chamber’s speaker in 2020.

“Hate and intolerance will not derail us,” said Fecteau after Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith presented him with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which is named after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “Our community will not be intimidated.”

The Victory Fund on Friday honored Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, a gay man who is living with HIV.

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