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EXCLUSIVE: 64 members of Congress urge US to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans

Chris Pappas spearheaded letter to Antony Blinken

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(Bigstock photo)

More than 60 members of Congress on Tuesday urged the U.S. to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans from their country after the Taliban regained control of it.

The letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) spearheaded notes LGBTQ+ Afghans face an “existential threat” under Taliban rule. Pappas and the 63 other members of Congress who signed the letter asked the State Department to allow LGBTQ+ Afghans to access the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  

The letter notes the State Department on Aug. 2 announced a “Priority 2 (P-2 designation” that grants “eligible Afghan nationals and their family members access to the USRAP for Afghans looking to flee Taliban rule but who aren’t eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).”

“The P-2 designation is made at the discretion of the Department of State and is typically used for ‘groups of special concern’ the department determines ‘as having access to the program by virtue of their circumstances’,” it reads.

“We have a moral obligation to uphold our values and utilize every tool at our disposal to protect the LGBTQ+ Afghan community,” adds the letter. “In the spirit of upholding our values and leading by example, we urge you to expand the Department of State’s P-2 designation granting USRAP access for Afghan nationals to explicitly include LGBTQ+ Afghans.”

“We further implore you to work with the Department of Defense to ensure that charter flights receive uninterrupted access to the (Kabul) airport, as charter flights will likely provide the best opportunity for priority refugees to escape,” stressed the members of Congress.

The Taliban on Aug. 15 entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, and toppled the country’s government. The U.S. has subsequently evacuated more than 80,000 people from Kabul’s airport.

President Biden on Tuesday reiterated the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan to end. The previous White House in 2020 brokered a peace deal with the Taliban that set the stage for the withdrawal.

A Taliban judge last month said the group would execute gay people if it were to once again return to power in Afghanistan. Canada thus far is the only country that has specifically said it would offer refuge to LGBTQ Afghans.

“With the Taliban’s takeover of the country, LGBTQ+ Afghans face the prospect of violent death. Sharia law, cemented in Afghanistan’s constitution, prohibits all forms of same-sex activity, and makes same-sex activity punishable by death,” reads the letter to Blinken. “Just as it was for ISIS in Iraq, Sharia law is the Taliban’s guiding compass as it establishes its rule over Afghanistan’s government and society. During its campaign in Iraq and Syria, ISIS frequently executed LGBTQ+ individuals by stoning them to death, castrating and hanging them in public squares, and throwing them off buildings.”

“Under Taliban rule, LGBTQ+ Afghans will suffer a similar fate,” it adds.

The letter notes President Biden in February signed a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promote LGBTQ rights abroad.

The lawmakers acknowledge “the situation in Afghanistan is fluid,” but stress Blinken has “the power to protect the lives of countless LGBTQ+ Afghans from the horrors they face living under a regime that threatens their very existence.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Trevor Project, Lambda Legal, PFLAG, Athlete Ally and the National Equality Action Team support the lawmakers’ call for the U.S. to offer refuge to LGBTQ Afghans.

“The Human Rights Campaign recognizes that those LGBTQ+ individuals fleeing Taliban rule deserve unique attention as they are particularly vulnerable and fear imminent violence and death following the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, and this particular vulnerability requires expedited redress by the Department of State,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release that Pappas’ office sent exclusively to the Washington Blade.

Council for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley stressed “time is running out and the lives of LGBTQI Afghans are at extreme risk.”

“As a country, we can do more to evacuate the LGBTQI community and to provide LGBTQI-affirming support for their successful resettlement here in the United States,” he said in the press release.

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Politics

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

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

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Screenshot of Matt Walsh via YouTube (Blade file photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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

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

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

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

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

White House statement denounces ‘bullying and harassment’

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

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

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

Read Biden’s full statement below:

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

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

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

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

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

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