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2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 

03
Jan
2014

Pro-LGBT Chilean president takes office

Michelle Bachelet, Chile, Socialist Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert of Agência Brasil; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially took office on Tuesday amid hopes she will bolster efforts in support of relationship recognition for same-sex couples and transgender rights in the South American country.

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Vice President Biden, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos are among those who attended Bachelet’s inauguration that took place in the coastal city of Valparaíso.

Bachelet, a left-leaning Socialist who was the country’s president from 2006-2010, defeated Evelyn Matthei by a 62-38 percent margin in a December run-off election.

Bachelet last year endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples during the campaign to succeed then-President Sebastián Piñera. She also supports a bill that would allow trans Chileans to legally change their name and sex without sex-reassignment surgery, hormonal treatments and psychiatric or psychological evaluations.

Bachelet backs efforts to strengthen Chile’s LGBT-inclusive hate crimes and anti-discrimination law named in honor of Daniel Zamurio, a 23-year-old man who a group of self-described neo-Nazis beat to death in Santiago, the country’s capital, in 2012 because he was gay.

She also met with Chilean LGBT rights advocates during the campaign.

Juan Pablo Fuentealba of the Chilean It Gets Better Foundation (Fundación Todo Mejora in Spanish) told the Washington Blade on Monday that Bachelet “expressed her concern” over high rates of suicide among young people and bullying in the South American country.

“The declarations of the president help to pave the way for organizations like Todo Mejora that are fighting to ensure that the legal changes are not simply just on paper, but that they are also implemented in a good way,” said Fuentealba.

Andrés Ignacio Duarte Rivera, founder of the Organization of Transsexuals for the Dignity of Diversity, told the Blade last December while in New York for the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the U.N. that he feels the inclusion of the trans rights bill in Bachelet’s platform is “a position of absolute support.”

Jaime Parada Hoyl, who in 2012 became the first openly gay political candidate elected in Chile when he won a seat on the municipal council in the wealthy Santiago enclave of Providencia, questioned Bachelet’s commitment to advancing the issue of relationship recognition for same-sex couples in the Chilean Congress.

She included civil unions in her platform during her first presidential campaign in 2005. The Chilean Senate in January voted to consider a civil unions bill that Piñera first proposed in 2011.

“We made a more inclusive, more respectful and less discriminatory society towards minorities and those who think differently,” said Piñera on Sunday during a televised speech from the presidential palace in Santiago.

The president of Bachelet’s party is among those who has publicly opposed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“She has said that ‘she will open a debate about marriage equality,’” Parada told the Blade. “She does not show any conviction on this topic. Chileans have already been debating this issue for years, but what is missing now is a bill.”

11
Mar
2014

Activist tells U.N. panel LGBT people face ‘brutal’ violence

Kenita Placide, United and Strong, St. Lucia, gay news, Washington Blade

Kenita Placide of United and Strong, an LGBT rights group in St. Lucia, on March 20 testified before the U.N. Committee on the Status of Women. (Photo courtesy of United and Strong)

A St. Lucian LGBT rights advocate told a U.N. commission last week that lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people around the world face “brutal physical and psychological violence”

“Globally, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and others with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities face brutal physical and psychological violence,” said Kenita Placide of United and Strong, Inc., in a statement she read on behalf of 76 organizations from 28 countries during a U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York on March 20. “We are subjected to harassment, assault and discrimination in the global North and South alike.”

Placide read the statement on behalf of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. United Belize Advocacy Movement, AIDS Foundation of Suriname, Minority Rights Dominica, Space for Salvadoran Lesbian Women for Diversity in El Salvador, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and the Council for Global Equality are among the groups that signed onto it.

“Realities and fears of violence and discrimination have direct impact on people’s ability to live safely, earn a living, have roofs over their heads and to be healthy,” reads the statement. “When people are persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, they will be forced to recede, go underground, forfeit privacy and personal and family safety, even as they resist, organize and fight for justice at great personal risk in the North and South alike.”

St. Lucia is among the more than 70 countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

The U.S. is among the countries that have curtailed aid to Uganda after the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, last month signed a bill into law that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in January signed a draconian anti-gay measure that, among other things, bans same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership in an LGBT advocacy group.

The Jamaica Supreme Court last June heard a lawsuit that challenges the island’s anti-sodomy law under which those who are convicted face up to 10 years in prison with hard labor. The Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize a month earlier heard a challenge to an identical statute the United Belize Advocacy Movement filed in 2010.

“The criminalization of adult consensual sexual activity and our communities, along with efforts by political and religious authorities to manipulate and stoke fears about sexual orientation and gender identity, only makes matters worse,” said the LBT Caucus in the statement that Placide read. “Whether at the national level or at the CSW (U.N. Commission on the Status of Women), decision makers must stop using these issues and our lives for their geopolitical gain.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon discussed anti-LGBT violence and discrimination in a video message during a panel with retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova, current Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins and others that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“An abuse against any of us is an affront to all,” said Ban. “Human rights can only be visible when we stand in solidarity as one.”

Vice President Joe Biden on March 22 said the U.S. should “champion” LGBT rights around the world during a speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner in Los Angeles.

“I travelled to most countries in the world, and I can tell you, they’re looking to us as an example, as a champion of LGBT rights everywhere,” said Biden.

26
Mar
2014

Beyer a longtime LGBT rights supporter

Don Beyer, gay news, Washington Blade, Virginia

Don Beyer (Photo public domain)

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor in response to “Beyer changed position on same-sex marriage” (news, March 19).

 

I was surprised to see the Blade single out Don Beyer as someone who has changed his position on gay marriage since 1997. Let’s be honest – a vast number of Americans have changed their position on gay marriage since 1997, and that is something that should be applauded, not criticized.

The truth is, like many of our friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, Don has evolved on this issue. In fact, Don evolved long before many of our current Democratic leaders. In 2003, Don endorsed Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in a primary in which Dean and no other candidate was in favor of gay marriage.

In 2006, when several Virginia Democrats joined Republicans in their crusade to ban gay marriage in the Commonwealth, Don personally contributed significantly to the effort opposing the Defense of Marriage Act referendum in Virginia. In doing so, he bucked many in his own party and even the majority of Virginia voters.  Don came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do well before many others, including many in the Democratic Party.

When my partner and I decided to start our own family in 2002, Don and his wife were among the first of our friends, gay or straight, to offer to help us. They have been unwavering advocates in the community for our family, which now includes two children, and we believe Don’s experience and perspective will be critical to addressing the unique issues we face going forward.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and nearly every Democratic elected official in Virginia has progressed on this issue, and ultimately, that’s what matters.

From prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and elsewhere, to supporting the inclusion of sexual orientation-based crimes in hate crime statutes, Don has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights. To try to paint him as anything otherwise is disingenuous and misleading; it also does a disservice to the people of Virginia.

I realize that in a crowded Democratic primary field we look for points of differentiation among the candidates. This isn’t one of them. —Mark C. Lowham

26
Mar
2014

New book on marriage equality assailed as ‘travesty’

Human Rights Campaign, American Foundation for Equal Rights, AFER, HRC, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, Virginia, Chad Griffin, Tom Shuttleworth, Carol Schall, Emily, Mary Townley, Adam Umhoefer, David Boies, Ted Olson, Tim Bostic, Washington Blade, Tony London

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin is lionized in “Forcing the Spring” for his role in the marriage movement. (Blade file by Michael Key)

A new book on the advancement of marriage equality and the lawsuit that overturned Proposition 8 is stirring controversy over its lionization of HRC President Chad Griffin and its depiction of the federal lawsuit he helped initiate against the California ban.

The book, “Forcing the Spring,” was written by Jo Becker, a New York Times journalist who was embedded with Griffin and the Prop 8 team as their lawsuit moved forward. The book hit shelves on Tuesday, but has already incurred the ire of many in the LGBT movement who say it heaps too much praise on Griffin and ignores others who led the marriage equality effort for decades.

The notion that Griffin, a board member of American Foundation for Equal Rights, is the hero who saved the marriage equality movement pervades the 437-page work.

One part of the book that addresses his move to D.C. in 2012 to become head of the Human Rights Campaign includes a farewell discussion in which fellow AFER board member Rob Reiner says of Griffin, “If there ever is going to be — and there will be at some point — the first gay president, you’re looking at him.”

As noted by gay blogger Andrew Sullivan in his tirade against the book, “Forcing the Spring” opens with a comparison of Griffin and civil rights icon Rosa Parks, saying a revolution begins when someone “grows tired of standing idly by” against the tide of injustice.

“It begins when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to white man in the segregated South,” Becker writes. “And in this story, it begins with a handsome, bespectacled thirty-five-year old political consultant named Chad Griffin, in a spacious suite at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco on election night 2008.”

It’s this comparison between Griffin and the iconic figure of the black civil rights movement that Sullivan, who helped pioneer the idea of same-sex marriage in the 1990s, says is only the start of “jaw-dropping distortion” throughout the book.

Andrew Lane, a prominent New York-based gay donor, called the book a “travesty” and said Becker knew that was the case as she was putting the book together.

“She chose to give us a shallow and incomplete history that fetishizes the role of celebrities and PR hacks and either trashes or ignores the real heroes who fought for years to help make the moment possible,” Lane said. “That vapid gay men are attempting to re-write history by centering themselves is not news. That they conscripted a New York Times reporter to do the heavy lifting for them certainly is.”

HRC didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on the perception that Griffin and the Prop 8 case are given undue credit in the book for their role in the marriage equality movement.

A significant portion of the book is devoted to the behind-the-scenes action leading to President Obama’s announcement in favor of marriage equality in 2012. Although Obama campaigned in 2008 in opposition to same-sex marriage (despite supporting it in 1996), he later said he could evolve on the issue, leading to his announcement in favor of same-sex marriage during his re-election campaign.

According to the book, when Vice President Joseph Biden appeared to endorse same-sex marriage on NBC’s “Meet the Press” just days before Obama’s announcement, the White House reacted furiously. In a chain of emails sent through the White House, senior adviser to the president Valerie Jarrett through an intermediary accused Biden of “downright disloyalty.”

Griffin gets credit as a key voice for moving these evolutions forward. A passage in the book recounts Griffin briefly asking the president during a fundraiser, “How can we help you evolve more quickly?” Obama gave a non-committed response, but pointed to his work on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the Defense of Marriage Act as evidence of his commitment to LGBT rights.

Further, it recounts Griffin attending a Los Angeles fundraiser with Biden prior to his appearance on “Meet the Press.” After Griffin asked Biden what he really thinks about marriage equality, the vice president said being against it in the future will be a “political liability.” A top Biden aide is quoted as saying it was a moment when “his hard drive got erased.”

John Aravosis, editor of AMERICAblog, criticized the depiction of Griffin as being a driving factor in Obama’s evolution, especially because others who contributed to the effort — like his own blogger who got Obama to say he could evolve on marriage — are absent from the book.

“I had high hopes for Chad taking over HRC, and said so publicly, but I don’t honestly know what Chad did to get the president to evolve on marriage,” Aravosis said. “You wouldn’t know it from Jo Becker’s self-proclaimed ‘definitive account’ of the gay marriage battle these past five years, but the president used that word in response to a question from then-AMERICAblog deputy editor Joe Sudbay, who questioned the president in the White House in October of 2010. Becker gives neither Joe, nor AMERICAblog, any credit, for the now-famous answer.”

Also depicted as contributing to Obama’s evolution on marriage is Ken Mehlman, the former head of the Republican National  Committee who came out as gay in 2010. Mehlman attended Harvard with Obama, so the two had known each other for decades.

According to the book, Mehlman e-mailed Obama senior adviser David Plouffe some talking points and suggested soft lighting for the interview and that it be conducted by a female reporter (it ended up being Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America,” who was closeted at the time).

It’s not the first time the events leading up to Obama’s announcement in favor of same-sex marriage have been reported. The 2013 book “Double Down,” which chronicles Obama’s re-election campaign, also discusses the lead-up to the endorsement. The book similarly recounts the fervor in the White House after Biden’s words on “Meet the Press” and Mehlman’s advice to Obama for his interview, although Griffin makes no appearance in that narrative.

While praising Griffin, the book doesn’t present as favorable an image of other leaders in the marriage equality movement. Among them is Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, who spoke out on marriage equality when it was much less popular — even among LGBT rights groups — in the 1990s.

One portion of the book disparages Wolfson for having unkind words for “Milk” screenwriter and AFER board member Dustin Lance Black after he pledged in his Oscar acceptance speech that equal rights will come very soon for gay people across America.

“Wolfson had berated the younger man over his Oscar speech, explaining as though to a willing but ignorant child his ongoing, twenty-five year plan to build support for marriage equality,” Becker writes. “Twenty-five years? Black had practically gasped. But he had said little; it was intimidating, to say the least, to be dressed down by a pioneer of the marriage equality movement.”

In response to a Blade inquiry on whether he’s given a fair shake in the book, Wolfson spoke in holistic terms on progress made on marriage equality and future goals to advance it further.

“As a movement, we have secured a strong majority of public support for the freedom to marry and a critical mass of Americans living in marriage states,” Wolfson said. “Together, we gutted the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and, as we again head toward the Supreme Court, have built irrefutable momentum showing America is ready. But we are not done. Freedom to Marry is going to stay focused on finishing the job and achieving the goal we’ve long been aiming toward: winning marriage nationwide.”

Another person whose role is minimized in the book is Mary Bonauto, the civil rights director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, who successfully argued the case almost 11 years ago that brought marriage equality to Massachusetts, making it the first state in the country with same-sex marriage. She has also led efforts against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Her role in “Forcing the Spring” is reduced to commending the Prop 8 lawsuit for enabling a trial of the issue of marriage equality. “They turned that trial into a truth commission,” Bonauto is quoted as saying of the attorneys behind the lawsuit.

Carisa Cunningham, a GLAD spokesperson, dismissed the omission of Bonauto’s work on marriage equality by saying the book was meant to capture the narrative of another effort to advance the cause.

“This book wasn’t Mary’s story, and it’s clearly not a history of the movement,” Cunningham said. ”Someday someone will write a book about Mary, and in the meantime, Mary’s story has been told in plenty of public ways and she and GLAD get a lot of well-deserved credit. We’re in it for the work – on principle and how it makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Cunningham also criticized the depiction of Griffin in the book, saying although he offered significant contributions to advancing marriage equality, the book “may do a disservice to those contributions by portraying him as a savior of the movement.”

But the crux of the book is that the lawsuit against Prop 8 litigated by Ted Olson and David Boies restructured the marriage movement. The title itself, “Forcing the Spring,” suggests the Prop 8 case was responsible for bringing marriage equality to the entire country — or at least getting the ball rolling for successes in other states besides California.

But it was the decision in the DOMA case — not the Prop 8 case — that established legal precedent enabling courts since that ruling to rule in favor of marriage equality in now 10 states. The U.S. Supreme Court on the Prop 8 case sidestepped the merits of whether a state can ban same-sex marriage, ruling that proponents of the law had no standing to defend the ban in court after California state officials declined to do so.

The conclusion of Becker’s account gives credit to the lawsuit against DOMA, but says the arguments in the Prop 8 case influenced U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision in striking down the federal law.

“By intertwining arguments from both cases, Kennedy gave the Windsor decision a heft and precedential value it might not otherwise have had, providing powerful legal ammunition for a slew of future challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage,” Becker writes.

It should be noted, as previously reported by the Blade, that Olson and Boies’ assistance in the Prop 8 lawsuit came with a hefty $6.4 million price tag. Moreover, HRC, now headed by Griffin, was among the nine signatories of a letter that came out the day before the Prop 8 lawsuit was filed and urged restraint in taking the case to court.

“It is by no means clear that a federal challenge to Prop. 8 can win now,” the letter says. “And an unsuccessful challenge may delay marriage even longer, not only in California but in other states, and seriously damage the rights of LGBT people on many other important issues.”

Nonetheless, HRC in the past week has been promoting the book and its depiction of the Prop 8 case in various blog postings on the organization’s website. One March 26 posting in the weeks prior to the publication of the book calls it “an unparalleled testament to the last five years in the American civil rights movement.”

Suzanne Goldberg, co-director for Columbia University’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, said she’s read the Becker book and faulted Becker for not telling the Prop 8 story in a way that better shows its place among other contributions to the marriage movement.

“I think the Perry case was, along with other cases, legislative and community-based advocacy, influential in shaping the marriage equality movement,” Goldberg said. ”The problem with Jo Becker’s book is not the up-close story she tells about the Prop 8 case and media work, which in itself is interesting, but rather the uncritical telling of that story as an account of the marriage equality movement. There are numerous places where she gives both the case and the media advocates far more credit for inventing advocacy strategies and changing the landscape than either deserves.”

22
Apr
2014

USAID-supported gay training to take place in Colombia

Colombia, Bogota, gay news, Washington Blade

El Capitolio Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia (Photo by Rikimedia via Wikimedia Commons)

The first training as part of a USAID-backed public-private partnership designed to promote LGBT rights around the world will take place in the Colombian capital from May 30-June 2.

Advocates from across Colombia are expected to attend the Bogotá training that is designed to teach participants how to become involved in the country’s political process. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will conduct the four-day seminar with Colombia Diversa, a nationwide LGBT advocacy group, as part of the LGBT Global Development Partnership that will contribute $11 million over the next four years to activist groups in neighboring Ecuador and other developing countries.

Colombia Diversa Executive Director Marcela Sánchez on Thursday will also moderate a panel on the role out public officials play in the advancement of LGBT rights in Colombia and the United States. Bogotá City Council member Angélica Lozano; Tatiana Piñeros, a transgender woman whom Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro appointed last year to run the Colombian capital’s social welfare agency; Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute President Chuck Wolfe and Francisco Herrero, director of the Democratic National Institute, a group that encourages underrepresented groups to become involved in the South American country’s political process, are scheduled to take part.

“I hope there will be an opportunity to have a conversation about opportunities for LGBT people to be involved in their government,” Wolfe told the Washington Blade before he traveled to Bogotá.

Chuck Wolfe, gay news, gay politics dc, Victory Fund

Victory Institute President Chuck Wolfe is among those who will travel to Colombia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The training will take place less than a week after Vice President Biden met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogotá during a six-day trip that also brought him to Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil.

Biden’s office did not return the Blade’s request for comment on whether the vice president discussed LGBT-specific issues with Santos. A senior administration official who briefed reporters before the trip said the Obama administration’s objective “is to work with our partners across the hemisphere to promote a hemisphere that’s middle class, secure and democratic.”

“They each have a government that share our democratic values, that are focused on delivering for their citizens and on working as partners to advance common interests across the region and around the world,” the official said.

Marriage debate provides training backdrop

The Colombian Senate in April struck down a bill that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The same chamber in 2007 defeated a measure that would have allowed gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions; but the country’s Constitutional Court in three separate rulings later that year and in 2008 extended property, social security and other rights to same-sex couples. The tribunal in 2009 ruled gays and lesbians who live together must receive the same rights that unmarried heterosexual couples receive under Colombian law.

The Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled the country’s Congress must pass legislation within two years that extends the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage to same-sex couples. They can legally register their relationships on June 20 if lawmakers fail to act on this judicial mandate.

Lawmakers in the South American country in 2011 also passed a new anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation.

Colombia was also among the countries that helped secure passage of the United Nations’ first-ever resolution in support of LGBT rights earlier in the same year.

Anti-LGBT violence remains pervasive

Colombia Diversa estimates 58 of the reported 280 LGBT Colombians who were murdered between 2010-2011 were killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A report from the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender Women (REDLACTRANS) notes 61 trans women in Colombia have been reported killed between 2005-2011.

Federico Ruíz Mora of the Santamaría Fundación, a group based in Cali that advocates on behalf of trans women, told the Blade last month while he and other Colombian LGBT rights activists and officials visited the United States that local police often exacerbate the problem.

USAID in 2009 began to work with the Colombian National Police on how to more effectively engage the country’s LGBT advocacy organizations. Law enforcement personnel from Colombia, Sweden and the United Kingdom took part in a 2010 seminar the agency and the Swedish Embassy co-sponsored on how police can better interact with LGBT Colombians.

Colombia Diversa and the Santamaría Fundación has also received USAID grants and other support to expand their efforts to document anti-LGBT violence and work with authorities to better prosecute the perpetrators.

Dan Baer, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department, acknowledged to the Blade during an interview on Tuesday that trans Colombians in particular face “very serious violence.” He added the Colombian government’s protection of freedom of association that allows LGBT advocacy groups and other non-governmental organizations to operate freely allows it to adequately respond to the problem.

“That makes a huge difference because you have the facts out in the open,” Baer said. “The challenge is just implementing policies that deliver full protections.”

While applauding the Colombian government’s efforts to address anti-LGBT violence, he conceded “there are more steps that they could take.”

“That’s a conversation that’s happening principally between domestic NGOs and the government,” Baer said. “There are very committed people I’ve met with in the Colombian government for whom this is a priority issue.”

Santos’ spokesperson Pedro Ignacio Camacho Ramírez told the Blade in an e-mail on Tuesday his country remains committed to protecting the rights of LGBT people.

“Colombia is a nation founded upon the inherent dignity of every human being,” he said. “In this sense, we understand that it is a priority for the country to move forward with the construction of politics and spaces that contribute to the development of the right to equality without discrimination in support of groups like the LGBTI community with special constitutional protection.”

Editor’s note: Blade reporter Michael K. Lavers will speak to training participants in Bogotá on Saturday.

29
May
2013

Our fascination with everything Hillary

Hillary Clinton, Department of State, GLIFAA, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton supporters are counting the days until her presumed 2016 campaign announcement. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

I have a fascination with Hillary Clinton and have admired her since I first met her in 1990. Today it’s clear that that fascination is pretty universal and media outlets across the nation understand that putting her on the front pages and featuring numerous stories about her even in the midst of the chaotic situation in the world today will continue to sell newspapers.

On Sunday, Sept. 15 there were two papers delivered to my door, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The Times had a story about Hillary on the front page and the Post had one on page A2. The Daily Beast had one as well. Each of the stories talks about her yet-unannounced presidential campaign. And remember that it’s less than eight months since President Obama was sworn in for his second term.

Many of us are watching the news and hoping that President Obama will be successful in his efforts to succeed in ridding Syria of chemical weapons and averting getting the U.S. involved in a war there. What may be happening today is the realization of the hopes and dreams so many placed in what we believed to be the president’s vision of the world when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before having done anything to earn it. We believed that he would do everything he could to keep the world safe without resorting to military action.

It’s nice to know that the Times has already assigned a full-time reporter to cover her every move. I am sure that Amy Chozick will be looking to get many more front-page stories out of this beat. This also isn’t the first column that Dan Balz of the Post has written on Hillary and she will provide him with many more columns and the Post with many more chances to use nearly quarter page pictures of her. (I’ve written a few columns on Hillary myself.)

The Post is following the story of Jeffrey Thompson and U.S. Attorney Ron Machen’s efforts to find something to indict D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray with. Thus far it appears that Machen hasn’t found anything in his nearly three years of looking. But Jeffrey Thompson is now providing the Post with a continuing story and Machin has uncovered a connection to the Hillary 2008 campaign. The first Post story, though not till toward the end of nearly a full page, said there doesn’t seem to be anything to connect Thompson to Hillary directly or to anything the campaign did illegally. Balz seems to confirm that conclusion in his Sunday column. But then the Post in its first column used a picture of Hillary instead of Thompson with the story since they felt it would attract more attention and the Balz column, which only incidentally mentions the Thompson story, uses a great picture of Hillary in Scotland receiving an honorary degree from St. Andrews University.

The Times story by Chozick is about Clinton and Biden’s friendship and how there have been some awkward moments. She writes that, “In December 2011, pollsters working for President Obama’s re-election campaign asked voters in battleground states a question: Would you be more likely to vote for Mr. Obama if Hillary Rodham Clinton were to campaign for him?” She goes on to write, “Of course, Mrs. Clinton, if she remained Secretary of State, could not participate in a political campaign. So the poll, and the former first lady’s popularity, only intensified speculation that Mr. Obama was considering moving Mrs. Clinton onto his ticket replacing Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.” A lot of old speculation rehashed but it did reach the level of a front-page story.

We are in for a continued stream of stories about Hillary that will dissect everything she does or says until she finally declares that she will run — and I think she will. Between Ready for Hillary with its now nearly one million supporters and Priorities,USA the Super PAC that raised money for Obama now retooling to raise funds for Hillary, everything will be ready for her announcement.

18
Sep
2013

Biden cancels HRC dinner speech

Vice President Joseph Biden (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Joseph Biden (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Biden has cancelled his appearance at this weekend’s Human Rights Campaign dinner in D.C. over the federal government shutdown.

Biden had been scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Saturday event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that is expected to draw more than 3,000 people. HRC spokesperson Fred Sainz told the Washington Blade the vice president called his organization’s president, Chad Griffin, late on Wednesday to “express his regrets.”

Sainz added Biden “reaffirmed his clear commitment to equality nationwide for all LGBT people” to Griffin.

“We’re disappointed but understand,” Sainz told the Blade.

Jennifer Lopez and pop singer Sara Bareilles are scheduled to appear at the dinner alongside DOMA plaintiff Edith Windsor and attorney Roberta Kaplan whom HRC will honor.

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03
Oct
2013

Lopez to appear at HRC Dinner

HRC, Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Human Rights Campaign gives Jennifer Lopez its 2013 Ally for Equality Award at the sold out National Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl., N.W.) Saturday night.

Lopez has supported the LGBT community for years by donating to HIV/AIDS research and supporting marriage equality. Lopez also is the executive producer of ABC Family’s hit show “The Fosters,” the story of a multi-ethnic family raised by two mothers, that garnered backlash from One Million Moms for its display of a lesbian relationship.

The keynote speaker for the evening was to be Vice President Joe Biden, however he has subsequently cancelled amid the government shutdown. DOMA Plaintiff Edie Windsor and Attorney Roberta Kaplan receive the National Equality Award. Sara Bareilles also performs her new single “Brave.” For more information, visit hrcnationaldinner.org.

03
Oct
2013

Beau Biden: Same-sex marriage momentum is ‘on our side’

Beau Biden, gay news, Washington Blade

Beau Biden (Photo courtesy Biden)

WILMINGTON, Del.—Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden on Saturday said support for marriage rights for same-sex couples continues to grow ahead of the expected introduction of a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in his state.

“I know that momentum is on our side on this,” he told the Washington Blade.

Biden, who had been scheduled to attend an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington on Friday but was unable because he was on duty with the Delaware Army National Guard, spoke with the Blade less than a week after the organization released a video in which he speaks in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Equality Delaware on March 4 released a poll that shows 54 percent of the state’s voters back marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to lend a voice to an important message on marriage equality,” he said. “I’m happy to work with [Equality Delaware President] Lisa [Goodman] and the folks here in Delaware who are fighting the fight that is a very important one.”

Biden did not provide a specific timeline as to when a same-sex marriage bill would be introduced in the General Assembly.

The legislative session ends on June 30, but he said one of the challenges remains ensuring there is enough time for lawmakers to debate the measure with a gun control bill and other proposals on the table.

“One of the issues is how busy the General Assembly is,” Biden said. “That’s why I’m anxious to make sure that something is put in the General Assembly sooner than later so we don’t run up against the clock.”

He also remains optimistic the measure will gain Republican support once it is formally introduced.

“I’m hopeful that Democrats and Republicans recognize this is a fundamental civil rights issue and everyone should have the same rights under the law,” Biden said. “Right now it’s just not the case. Something needs to be fixed, so I’m hopeful that there will be Republicans on board.”

Biden is among the 14 state attorneys general who filed two amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court that argue California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional. The justices will hear oral arguments in both cases on March 26-27 respectively.

“I’m confident that David Boies and Ted Olson, two of the great advocates of our era, will be forceful advocates for our position before the Supreme Court,” Biden said. “I’m hopeful the Supreme Court will come down on our side on this.”

Delaware is among the handful of states that currently allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Neighboring Maryland and eight other states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

A Rhode Island Senate committee on March 21 will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the Ocean State. Lawmakers in Illinois and other states are expected to debate the issue in the coming days and weeks.

Biden also applauded his father, Vice President Biden, for speaking in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during a pre-taped interview with David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” in May 2012.

“I was incredibly proud of my father for speaking from his heart, but also speaking from his head,” Biden said, noting he watched it with his parents after they attended Mass. “He knew from both places that this is about love and to not stand in the way of the ability for anybody to love and to be in a committed relationship and marriage with whomever they choose. And so it’s pretty straight forward and simple for my dad I think. That’s why he answered the question so much from the heart.”

Biden said he feels momentum in support of the issue has only grown since his father and President Obama spoke publicly in support of it. He noted U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and others are “coming along and joining this civil rights fight it seems on a daily basis.”

“I feel the momentum,” Biden said. “I’m hopeful that that will carry through with the General Assembly enacting this important law.”

16
Mar
2013