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Harry Reid dies at 82

Former Senate majority leader key to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal

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Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) died on Tuesday at his home in Henderson, Nev., after a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

Reid was born in Searchlight, Nev., on Dec. 2, 1939.

The Nevada Democrat was the state’s lieutenant governor from 1971-1975.

Reid represented Nevada’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-1987. He was in the U.S. Senate from 1987-2017, and was Senate majority leader from 2007-2015.

Reid played a leading role in securing the passage of the bill that repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010. Reid, among other things, championed the Affordable Care Act and presided over the Senate in 2013 when the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed in a bipartisan vote.

The bill later died in a Republican-controlled House.

“I am heartbroken to announce the passing of my husband, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” said Reid’s wife of 62 years, Landra Reid, in a statement. “He died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by our family, following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.”

“We are so proud of the legacy he leaves behind both on the national stage and his beloved Nevada,” she added.

“I’ve had the honor of serving with some of the all-time great Senate majority leaders in our history. Harry Reid was one of them,” said President Biden in a statement. “And for Harry, it wasn’t about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right for the people.”

Former President Obama also mourned Reid.

“You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect,” said Obama in a statement. “I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination.”

Silver State Equality, an LGBTQ rights group in Nevada, praised Reid as a “tireless fighter for all.”

“Senator Reid was a force to be reckoned with,” said the group on Twitter. “His decades of service to Nevada and the nation included passing the ACA, repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and ushering LGBTQ+ employment protections through the Senate.”

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender activist who is a U.S. Army veteran, in a tweet said Reid “had a backbone” and “didn’t shy away from a battle, and he won most of them, including passage of the Affordable Care Act.”

“He was a fighter, and we loved him for it,” tweeted Clymer. “May his memory be a blessing.”

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Congress

Anti-LGBTQ provisions removed from NDAA

New version omits restriction on gender affirming care, book and drag bans

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U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Anti-LGBTQ provisions submitted by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been removed from the defense spending bill, triggering outrage from conservative lawmakers and praise from LGBTQ groups.

The conference version of the bill was released on Thursday.

This week saw the revocation of two measures targeting gender affirming care along with the book ban and drag ban. Language stipulating the list of approved flags that can be flown at military bases was amended such that more flags can be added on a discretionary basis.

“MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to riddle it with discriminatory riders,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement to the Washington Blade.

His statement continued, “They failed and equality won. Anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, including efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care, were rejected. The anti-LGBTQ+ agenda continues to be deeply unpopular across the country and a failing political strategy.”

Wolf thanked U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for “defending equality and defeating attacks on the community.”

Pledging to vote “no” on the bill, Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) said in a post on X, “I was appointed to the NDAA conference committee but NEVER got to work on the final version of the NDAA bc they made the deal behind closed doors and here are the horrible results.”

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Congress

New bill would protect LGBTQ-owned businesses from lending discrimination

Legislation introduced by Sens. Padilla, Gillibrand and Rep. Torres

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U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bicameral bill introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), along with U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) would require financial institutions to collect data on access to credit and capital by LGBTQ-owned businesses.

The legislation would thereby allow regulators to better identify and potentially remedy instances of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in these areas.

CNBC reported in June that a study by the Movement Advancement Project found LGBTQ-owned businesses encountered more rejections than non-LGBTQ-owned businesses that applied for funding, amid a tightening of lending standards across the board.

Specifically, the bill would “clarify that Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) requires financial institutions to collect the self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity of the principal owners of small businesses, in addition to their sex, race, and ethnicity,” according to a press release by Padilla’s office.

The California senator said, “With anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate crimes on the rise, LGBTQ+ business owners continue to face persistent and unjust barriers to financial success,” adding that “LGBTQ+-owned small businesses are a cornerstone of local economies, and they deserve equitable resources to help them grow and thrive.”

Padilla’s press release notes the legislation “would also add a definition for businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals to the ECOA statute.”

Additionally, “The legislation also includes a Sense of Congress confirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are already covered under the ECOA (including the current data collection requirements)” while clarifying “that the sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the principal owners of a business should be collected as three separate forms of information.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus, Ali Forney Center, Center for American Progress, Destination Tomorrow, Drag Out The Vote, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, InterAct, and New Pride Agenda have backed the bill.

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Politics

Endocrine Society corrects misinformation about gender affirming care at GOP debate

Presidential candidates clashed in Ala. on Wednesday.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) (Screen capture/NBC News)

The Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the clinical practice of endocrinology, released a statement correcting misinformation about gender affirming healthcare that was spread at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday night.

The group said comments in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) characterized care for transgender and gender-diverse youth as child abuse and genital mutilation “do not reflect the health care landscape” and contradict “mainstream medical practice and scientific evidence.”

“Pediatric gender-affirming care is designed to take a conservative approach,” the Endocrine Society wrote. “When young children experience feelings that their gender identity does not match the sex recorded at birth, the first course of action is to support the child in exploring their gender identity and to provide mental health support, as needed.”

The statement continues, “Medical intervention is reserved for older adolescents and adults, with treatment plans tailored to the individual and designed to maximize the time teenagers and their families have to make decisions about their transitions.”

Notwithstanding the remarks by DeSantis, other debate participants, and moderator Megyn Kelly, “gender-affirming genital surgery is rarely offered to anyone under the age of 18,” the statement says.

Additionally, “More than 2,000 scientific studies have examined aspects of gender-affirming care since 1975, including more than 260 studies cited in the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline.”

Other major scientific and medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are “in alignment” with the Endocrine Society on “the importance of gender affirming care,” the statement notes.

Further, research shows it “can be life saving for a population with high suicide rates.”

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