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Biden, HHS condemn Texas order against transition-related care for trans youth

Feds announce new measures against Texas initiative

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President Biden condemned the Texas order against transgender youth as "government overreach at its worst."

Amid consternation over an order from the Texas governor designating transition-related care for transgender youth as child abuse, President Biden and Secretary of Health & Human Services issued a pair of statements Wednesday night condemning the move.

Biden in the statement issued by the White House called the order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “a cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.”

“This is government overreach at its worst. Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points,” Biden said. “These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”

The statement comes one day after Biden delivered the State of the Union address, when he reiterated his pledge to have the backs transgender youth as he reiterated his call to pass the LGBTQ Equality Act.

Biden also speaks out on the same night as a federal court in Texas issued a temporary restraining order partially blocked the governor’s order in a move that stops the state from investigating parents named in the lawsuit, which was filed by American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.

Becerra similarly condemned counted the Texas order as among the recent “attacks against transgender youth and those who love and care for them are discriminatory and unconscionable.”

“These actions are clearly dangerous to the health of transgender youth in Texas. At HHS, we listen to medical experts and doctors, and they agree with us, that access to affirming care for transgender youth is essential and can be life-saving,” Becerra said.

Becerra also announced a series a measures aimed at countering the Texas order, pledging to  “take immediate action if needed.”

From the HHS statement:

  • HHS is releasing guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum that makes clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth,  which importantly can include access to gender affirming care;
     
  • HHS is also releasing guidance on patient privacy, clarifying that, despite the Texas government’s threat, health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender affirming care;
     
  • HHS also issued guidance making clear that denials of health care based on gender identity are illegal, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing care because of a patient’s gender identity;
     
  • The Secretary also called on all of HHS to explore all options to protect kids, their parents, caretakers and families; and 
     
  • HHS will also ensure that families and health care providers in Texas are aware of all the resources available to them if they face discrimination as a result of this discriminatory gubernatorial order.

The full statement from Biden issued by the White House follows:

Statement by President Biden on Texas’ Attacks on Transgender Youth
In recent days, elected leaders in Texas have launched a cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents. The Governor of Texas has directed state officials to open child abuse investigations into families simply because they have provided access to affirming care for their children. This is government overreach at its worst. Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the Governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points. These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced several actions to keep transgender children in Texas and their families safe—putting the state of Texas on notice that their discriminatory actions put children’s lives at risk. These announcements make clear that rather than weaponizing child protective services against loving families, child welfare agencies should instead expand access to gender-affirming care for transgender children. Respected medical organizations have said that access to gender-affirming care for transgender children can benefit mental health, lower suicide rates, and improve other health outcomes. Children, their parents, and their doctors should have the freedom to make the medical decisions that are best for each young person—without politicians getting the way.

In the United States of America, we respect the rights and dignity of all families. Transgender children bring fulfillment to their parents, joy to their friends, and are made in the image of God. Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm, and parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized. As I told transgender Americans in my State of the Union Address yesterday evening, “I’ll always have your back as your President so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.” Jill and I are standing with the incredibly brave transgender children, their parents, and families throughout Texas and around the country, and we will continue to fight for a future where all children can thrive.

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South America

Bolsonaro, Lula to face off in second round of Brazil presidential election

Neither candidate received 50 percent of vote on Sunday

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From left, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Photo of Bolsonaro by Celso Pupo/Bigstock; photo of Lula courtesy Lula campaign)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers will be on assignment in Brazil through Oct. 11.

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face off in the second round of the country’s presidential election on Oct. 30 after neither of them received a majority of votes on Sunday.

Da Silva was ahead of Bolsonaro by a 47.9-43.6 percent margin with 97.5 percent of electronic voting machines counted, according to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who is a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Congress from 1991 until he took office in 2018. 

Polls ahead of Sunday’s election suggested Da Silva was poised to defeat Bolsonaro in the first round. Bolsonaro’s efforts to discredit Brazil’s electoral system increased concerns that violence could erupt in the country if Bolsonaro did not accept the results. 

The incumbent president has faced sharp criticism because of his rhetoric against LGBTQ and intersex Brazilians, women, people of African and indigenous descent and other groups.

He has encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they think they are gay.

Bolsonaro during a 2019 press conference in the White House Rose Garden stressed his “respect of traditional family values.” Bolsonaro has expressed his opposition to “gender ideology,” supports legislation that would limit LGBTQ-specific curricula in Brazil’s schools and condemned a 2019 Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that criminalized homophobia and transphobia.

A Brazilian Federal Police investigator in August called for prosecutors to charge Bolsonaro with incitement for spreading false information about COVID-19 after he said people who are vaccinated against the virus are at increased risk for AIDS. Activists and HIV/AIDS service providers with whom the Washington Blade spoke in March sharply criticized Bolsonaro’s policies towards people with HIV/AIDS.

Supporters of president jair bolsonaro hold a ‘motociata’ near the brazilian congress in brasÍlia, brazil, on oct. 1, 2022. (video by michael k. lavers)

Da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010, is a member of the country’s leftist Workers’ Party.

Sergio Moro, a judge who Bolsonaro later tapped as his government’s Justice and Public Security Minister, in 2017 sentenced Da Silva to 9 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. 

The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

Julian Rodrigues, who was the coordinator of the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, noted to the Blade during a previous interview that Da Silva in 2004 created the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign. Rodrigues also highlighted Da Silva created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, funded community centers and sought to make police officers and other law enforcement officials more friendly to LGBTQ and intersex people.

The Blade will update this story.

A flag in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a bookstore in Brasília, Brazil, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
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National

Survey shows 72% of Utah residents back same-sex marriage

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah said he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality

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The results of a poll run by the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Desert News found 72% of Utah’s residents agree that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights as cis-gender marriages.

“For a state that less than 20 years ago passed laws and a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, there has been a seismic shift in opinion,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey also found that 23% of those surveyed disagreed, while 5% expressed that they don’t know.

The poll shows Utahns are aligned with the nation as a whole on the issue. A Gallup poll in May found 71% of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage, a new high.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the Desert News that he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality.

“Utah is a pro-family state, and we recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes. When we see loving, committed couples joining in matrimony, our natural impulse is to support and encourage that love. This gives me great hope for the future,” he said.

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News

Rep. Pocan introduces legislation to create nat’l LGBTQ history museum

Bills seek answer on including site as part of Smithsonian

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Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation seeking to create an LGBTQ history museum. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation that would set up the process to create a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History & Culture, potentially as an official site within the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Pocan, one of nine openly gay members of the U.S. House and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said in a statement Thursday the measures would are effort to preserve LGBTQ history “as our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history.” The pair of bills is H.R.9070 and H.R.9071.

“It is vital to remember our collective past – particularly when certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth and our community at large,” Pocan said. “Let’s tell these stories, and honor the many contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to this nation with a museum in Washington, D.C.”

The first bill, according to a news statement, would creates an eight-member commission of individuals with expertise in museum planning or LGBTQ+ research and culture “to look into the viability of establishing such a facility in the nation’s Capital.”

Among other things, the commission would be charged with recommending a plan on action for museum, including fundraising for the museum, and submitting to Congress a plan for construction of the museum, the statement says.

The bill would also instruct the commission to address whether the museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution, based in the nation’s capital and the world’s largest museum and research complex, per the news statement. The full study, the statement says, would have to be completed in 18 months.

If the Smithsonian were to adopt the a museum on LGBTQ history and culture, it would be similar to other museums under its jurisdiction focused on minority populations in the United States, including the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

The second bill, according to a news statement, would be eligible for consideration by Congress after the commission completes its work and issues its recommendations and allow for formal creation of the museum. More than 50 lawmakers, including all nine openly gay members of the U.S. House, co-sponsor the legislation.

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