LGBTQ+ News

July LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Another Pride Day added to our history

by Betsy Ettorre

The DA June Pride month was packed with, well with, prideful events. Including a commemoration by President Biden to the Pulse Nightclub 2016 tragedy.
 
Our July newsletter contains summaries of our June 20 Equality Act program, a report of the webinar with Tammy Baldwin, a thoughtful reflection on what pride means, and the White House’s homage to the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Florida.
 
As President Biden said during that program, “This afternoon, we celebrate. Tomorrow we go back to work”.
 
There’s a lot of work to do and we are looking for volunteers to help.  

Can you write, edit and/or proofread? Do you have IT skills you can share?  
 
Please see our request to find LGBTQ volunteer newsletter writers as well as our search for volunteers to share their poetic expressions in our ongoing quest for equity.
 
We hope you had a great 4th of July! 

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Pride: June 2021 Newsletter

Editorial: Telling our Pride stories

Our quote for this Pride month is: “I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act.” — Janet Mock

Join the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus on Sunday, June 20, 2021, for a daylong Pride celebration as we share our events with all DA members. Remember Pride month celebrates who we are and the power and joy of coming out. It is also a time to acknowledge the risks associated with coming out for many LGBTQ+ people around the world as well as our own communities.

On June 16, our very special guest is U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who joins Democrats Abroad for a Pride Month webinar on the Equality Act.

In this Pride Newsletter, co-editor Fred Kuhr provides an update on the State Department’s changed policy on providing citizenship to LGBTQ+ couples from abroad who adopt children. Co-editor Betsy Ettorre writes a short piece on the resolution passed recently by DPCA, “To Condemn Recent Anti-Transgender Legislation and to Support Passage of the Equality Act.” She will also summarize the June 8 DAUK (Democrats Abroad United Kingdom) Action Night, urging Congress to pass the Equality Act!

Also in this issue, Russell Martin interviews DA Spain Chair Daniel James about his work in the LGBTQ+ community and DA, and Irene Chriss provides a piece on the filibuster and outlines its historical implications for lawmakers.

Happy reading, and we hope to see you throughout this month as we celebrate Pride.

Betsy Ettorre & Fred Kuhr, co-editors


DA to celebrate Pride all day on June 20

by Adriana Smith

Democrats Abroad is celebrating Pride Month with a jam-packed schedule of events on June 20 for a Global Virtual Pride Marathon — or Prideathon, if you prefer. The theme this year is “Sharing Our Stories / Equality Matters.”

Events include facilitated discussions on the experience of LGBTQ+ people around the world and how to influence U.S. legislation that impacts LGBTQ+ people, film screenings on LGBTQ+ experiences, poetry and spoken word performances, a drag story time for the whole family, and much more.

The big event is hosted by the DA LGBTQ+ Caucus, with the aim of educating Americans about issues impacting LGBTQ+ people and opportunities to provide greater protection through policy and legislation. A key focus will be on engaging members to share their stories.

Here are some of the events planned for the day:

  • 5:30/11:30 (EDT/CET): Let's talk about AAPI queer identity through a discussion of Alice Wu's film The Half of It, now streaming on Netflix;
  • 6:00/12:00 (EDT/CET): Dialogue on healthcare and other issues faced by transgender youth, facilitated by the DAUK LGBTQ+ caucus, featuring one of the U.K.’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, Mermaids;
  • 7:30/13:30 (EDT/CET): Between two stigmas the intersection of being LGBTQ+ and an immigrant, with Departed Dreamers, co-hosted by the DA Hispanic Caucus.
  • 9:00/15:00 (EDT/CET): Equality legislation with Nadine Smith of Equality Florida, Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus Exec. Director Shawn Gaylord, DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes.
  • 11:00/17:00 (EDT/CET): Screening of “Edie & Thea ” a critically acclaimed documentary on a relationship that ultimately led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Edith Windsor vs USA, striking down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act; Q&A with filmmaker Susan Muska;
  • 13:00/19:00 (EDT/CET): Family-friendly and fun drag story time with Fay and Fluffy;
  • 14:30/20:30 (EDT/CET): a spoken word performance on queer life in Canada from the perspective of non-binary and two-spirit performers;
  • 15:30/21:30 (EDT/CET): Presentation and discussion on a family’s fight to stay together, their testimony at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on same-sex immigration rights.

To RSVP, go to Global Virtual Pride 2021.

For more information, go to SwayOffice.com


Biden marks Pride Month by pressing for Equality Act passage, expanding global rights agenda

by Fred Kuhr

Returning to a tradition that was shelved during the previous Republican administration, the Joe Biden White House issued its first LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation on June 1.

In it, Biden praised civil rights activists working for LGBTQ+ equality, lambasted physical as well as legislative attacks on transgender Americans, and reiterated his support for the Equality Act, legislation that seeks to ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination nationally. The Equality Act passed the United States House of Representatives earlier this year, but remains stalled in the Senate in part due to Republican use of the filibuster.

“While I am proud of the progress my Administration has made in advancing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, I will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law. That is why I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and families across our country,” Biden stated.

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The filibuster and why it matters to LGBTQ+ equally

by Irene Chriss

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure which permits United States senators to initiate a non-stop debate, often a monologue, in order to block or slow down a piece of legislation — even if it seemingly has majority approval.

These "debates" span from the idealistic and politically progressive to a display of power and control.

The filibuster can be invoked by three-fifths (currently 60 percent) of the voting Senate. The debate may be brought to a close by invoking cloture, a legislative procedure of ending debate and taking a vote.

At times, a "nuclear option" can be invoked to close the debate with a simple majority vote. If the vote is split 50/50 — and currently there are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans — with no simple majority vote being achieved, the presiding vice-president (in this case, Democrat Kamala Harris) breaks the tie.

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Pushing to pass the Equality Act

by Betsy Ettore

At the 2021 Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Annual Global Meeting (May 14-16), the Resolution To Condemn Recent Anti-Transgender Legislation and to Support Passage of the Equality Act, proposed by Austin Allaire (DA UK) and Brian Westley (DA UK), was adopted. It states:

  • Whereas 16 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted since the beginning of 2021; and
  • Whereas recent legislation passed in the state of Arkansas serves as a case study of the perils of such laws; and
  • Whereas, on April 2, 2021, Republicans in the Arkansas General Assembly voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto to enact the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act; and
  • Whereas this law bans gender-confirming surgery for anyone under 18 and prohibits doctors from providing transgender youth with puberty blockers or hormone therapy; and

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Meet the new chair of DA Spain

by Russell Martin

“I started off in Democratic politics a long, long time ago,” Daniel James explains. “I worked for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and started working on campaigns,” serving on “three House campaigns and a Senate campaign.” James’ 34-year career in the federal government then shifted toward more non-partisan work.

But even after his retirement in 2019, James carefully considers and consults before jumping in as an activist in the partisan arena. Of course, this has not prevented him from being actively involved, and like many others, James has felt even more compelled to act in the current political climate.

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Meet the new chair of DA Spain

“I started off in Democratic politics a long, long time ago,” Daniel James explains. “I worked for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and started working on campaigns,” serving on “three House campaigns and a Senate campaign.” James’ 34-year career in the federal government then shifted toward more non-partisan work.

But even after his retirement in 2019, James carefully considers and consults before jumping in as an activist in the partisan arena. Of course, this has not prevented him from being actively involved, and like many others, James has felt even more compelled to act in the current political climate.

Read more

Pushing to pass the Equality Act

At the 2021 Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Annual Global Meeting (May 14-16), the Resolution To Condemn Recent Anti-Transgender Legislation and to Support Passage of the Equality Act, proposed by Austin Allaire (DA UK) and Brian Westley (DA UK), was adopted. It states:

  • Whereas 16 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted since the beginning of 2021; and
  • Whereas recent legislation passed in the state of Arkansas serves as a case study of the perils of such laws; and
  • Whereas, on April 2, 2021, Republicans in the Arkansas General Assembly voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto to enact the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act; and
  • Whereas this law bans gender-confirming surgery for anyone under 18 and prohibits doctors from providing transgender youth with puberty blockers or hormone therapy; and
Read more

The filibuster and why it matters to LGBTQ+ equally

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure which permits United States senators to initiate a non-stop debate, often a monologue, in order to block or slow down a piece of legislation — even if it seemingly has majority approval.

These "debates" span from the idealistic and politically progressive to a display of power and control.

The filibuster can be invoked by three-fifths (currently 60 percent) of the voting Senate. The debate may be brought to a close by invoking cloture, a legislative procedure of ending debate and taking a vote.

At times, a "nuclear option" can be invoked to close the debate with a simple majority vote. If the vote is split 50/50 — and currently there are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans — with no simple majority vote being achieved, the presiding vice-president (in this case, Democrat Kamala Harris) breaks the tie.

Read more

Biden marks Pride Month by pressing for Equality Act passage, expanding global rights agenda

Returning to a tradition that was shelved during the previous Republican administration, the Joe Biden White House issued its first LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation on June 1.

In it, Biden praised civil rights activists working for LGBTQ+ equality, lambasted physical as well as legislative attacks on transgender Americans, and reiterated his support for the Equality Act, legislation that seeks to ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination nationally. The Equality Act passed the United States House of Representatives earlier this year, but remains stalled in the Senate in part due to Republican use of the filibuster.

“While I am proud of the progress my Administration has made in advancing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, I will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law. That is why I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and families across our country,” Biden stated.

Read more

Biden nominating more LGBTQ+ officials, while diplomatic appointments coming “soon"

President Joe Biden is continuing to appoint members of the LGBTQ+ community to positions within the administration.

Most recently, he appointed out veteran Gina Ortiz Jones to the position of Air Force Under Secretary, which is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Jones, a lesbian who served in the Iraq War, previously ran twice to win a congressional seat representing Texas’ 23rd congressional district, a majority Hispanic district that stretches along the Mexico border from San Antonio to just outside El Paso.

Gina Ortiz Jones, two time candidate Texas’ 23rd congressional district

If confirmed, Jones would be the first woman of color to serve as Air Force Under Secretary.

Equality PAC Co-Chairs Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat, and Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, praised the nomination. In a joint statement, they said, “Throughout her life, Gina has bravely served our nation, both as a member of the United States Air Force and as an intelligence officer. Simply put, Gina is uniquely qualified for this role and we urge the Senate to quickly confirm her to this critical post.”

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Biden pushes Equality Act, while GOP attacks trans youth and filibuster remains roadblock

President Biden, before he was elected, made promises about what he would accomplish in his first 100 days. Signing the Equality Act into law was one of them.

Unfortunately, the legislation — which seeks to ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and has already passed the U.S. House — is languishing in the Senate. But it’s not for lack of Biden’s prodding.

In fact, on Biden’s 99th day in office, during his first joint address to Congress, he called for the Senate to pass the Equality Act. “I hope Congress will get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans,” Biden said. 

He added a message to the transgender community. “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave: I want you to know your president has your back.”

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LGBTQ+ Voices: An interview with Shannon Linehan from DA Canada

Democrats Abroad has had a strong presence at Toronto Pride in recent years, and it has been a valuable opportunity for the chapter to engage members and support the community. Shannon Linehan, a New York voter in the Toronto chapter, notes that DA has been a fixture at Pride, staffing a booth and even taking part in the parade itself. Like many cities, Toronto was forced to cancel their in-person Pride celebrations during the COVID pandemic, and Pride events will be held virtually for another year. Though the chapter is unable to take part as it has in the past, Shannon and other volunteers in Toronto experimented with an array of creative programs to keep members engaged and further LGBTQ+ and social justice initiatives locally.

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Why Equality Act Matters to Me - Irene Criss

In 2003 I left my American homeland, my job, roots, family and language. This 

decision was not taken lightly. I was a good citizen and a productive member of society, but I was being denied my bill of rights.

In 2002, my now wife, Catherine, was offered a teaching position at an American University and asked to provide a green card. The green card’s key elements included employment (check that box!) and health coverage and shelter (check – sorta). Through my job I had health insurance with spousal benefits, but only for a spouse. Marriage was not a legal option for us. Additionally, in the wake of 9/11, Homeland Security said Catherine could only remain in the US for a maximum of three months, leave for six months, and then begin the cycle again.

Not much of an option in pursuit of my inalienable rights.

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