LGBTQ+ News

LGBTQ+ Caucus Statment Regarding the Aftermath of the Dobbs Decision

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Last Friday, the Supreme Court issued a chilling decision overturning Roe, striking down a well-established precedent of 50 years, and for the first time ever, taking away a Constitutional right.  It will not be the last time.

This decision will have an immense and immensely negative impact on the bodily autonomy of women (as well as transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people who can give birth), their right to seek and obtain affordable health care, and their ability to control their own reproductive systems.  At least 26 states have passed restrictive bans and criminalized the efforts of both individuals and doctors to administer the health care that is in the best interest of the patient and have even curtailed the right of the patient to make decisions in their own best interest (1). And now, both Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell are indicating that they will not rest until this ban is nationwide.

It goes without saying, but let us say it anyway, loudly and clearly:  this decision is deplorable and dangerously regressive for all Americans.

But this decision affects not only women, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people and their health care providers, in no small part because what was overturned on Friday was not merely the right to abortion, but rather and arguably, more importantly, the right to privacy. Fundamentally what Roe affirmed was the finding first articulated in Griswold that although it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, a right to privacy does exist in the penumbra of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. That right to privacy is now very much in doubt.

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April LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: The Gay Agenda for 2022

by Martha McDevitt-Pugh, DA LGBTQ+ Global Caucus vice chair

The DAUK LGBTQ+ Caucus kicked off this election year with a discussion of “The Gay Agenda" for 2022.

During the webinar, we heard from Sam Alleman, LGBTQ+ Coalitions Director at the DNC, to hear about measures the Biden Administration has taken to advance protections for LGBTQ+ people. These efforts started with signing executive orders on LGBTQ+ rights within hours of taking the oath of office — including preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation and the whole-of-government initiative establishing efforts to advance equity and justice for communities who have been left behind, underserved, or discriminated against by federal policies, laws, and programs, including LGBTQ+ communities. They also included lifting the ban on transgender military service and providing Americans with same-sex partners with an equal pathway to registering their children born abroad as U.S. citizens.

I joined Alleman to speak about the state of play across the country — and the role each of us has to play in advancing LGBTQ+ rights ahead of the midterm elections. The event was moderated by Caroline Ruchonnet and organized by DAUK LGBTQ+ Caucus chair Austin Allaire.

Republican state legislatures across the country have been targeting some of society’s most vulnerable — LGBTQ+ youth. Nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in the first three months of 2022 alone, half of them targeting transgender people. From Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to Iowa’s new anti-trans sports law, we are seeing Republicans enact a hateful, bigoted agenda which jeopardizes the hard-won progress of the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ issues are expected to be highlighted throughout the 2022 election cycle, making it critical that Democrats use the opportunity to speak to the issues. Relational organizing will be more important than ever — checking in with friends and family to find out if they’re registered and ready to vote.

The panel noted that getting out the vote in the 2022 midterms is as important as it was in 2018 and 2020, when Democrats took power in the House, Senate and won the presidency. With Democrats Abroad mobilizing voters in all 50 states, DA is a good partner for the DNC and the DNC LGBTQ Caucus, to bring attention to local and state issues while encouraging Americans overseas to vote. U.S. democracy itself is at stake.

If you missed it, you can watch the event here.

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

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March LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Doing what we can in a time of war

by Irene Chriss, associate editor

Biden’s State of the Union address was not just front-loaded with calls to challenge Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but it also delivered a bold and unequivocal message for LGBTQ+ Americans.

“And for our LGBTQ+ Americans, let’s finally get the bipartisan Equality Act to my desk. The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is simply wrong,” Biden said. “… I’ll always have your back as your president, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD reacted, “The state of our union is only as strong as our action and commitment to ensure no marginalized person is left behind. LGBTQ voters are more motivated than ever to hold elected officials accountable in the midterms.”

The Equality Act continues to languish in the Senate due to inadequate Republican support. This underscores the importance of your vote in the midterm elections, and it’s easy to register online and receive an online ballot. Just go to https://www.votefromabroad.org/request/your-information for more information.

On the Ukrainian front, “All Americans should leave Ukraine,” Biden told NBC News, adding that he could not risk a clash with Russian troops that might trigger a broader military engagement. Biden insisted he would not use the military to extract anyone trapped by a Russian attack. According to a New York Times article, Biden officials made clear that the 2021 Kabul airlift was “unique” and U.S. officials would not rescue its citizens who remain in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a recent interview with a Ukrainian television station, said this decision had been made “out of an abundance of precaution.”

“It’s the prudent thing to do,” Blinken added, “because my personal responsibility is the safety and security of our people.”

If Kyiv falls, those who remain might be at particular risk of persecution. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations office in Geneva warns that Russia has plans to kill or round up journalists, activists, minorities, dissidents, and LGBTQ Ukrainians to be placed in camps.

The U.S. has no requirements for the approximately nine million Americans living abroad to declare where they live, reported State Department spokesperson Ned Price. Despite not knowing how many American residents are in Ukraine, we do know they are in peril and no rescuers will be coming for those who stayed behind.

Organizations from the grassroots to the international level are taking steps to protect refugees who face additional layers of danger. A word of caution: While mass grassroots efforts can surface overnight, there is also a potential for scams. Do your research. Verify the organizations’ non-profit Form 990 or check social media accounts to see if they’ve posted any receipts of how they’re using people’s money.

Some resources have been provided by reputable publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

Here are some others:

Do you have a story to tell about a Ukrainian relative or yourself? If you wish to share your story, email [email protected]. Any information, including your name, will not be published. Rather, all comments with be synthesized into an overview to keep our members safe and our readers informed.

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

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February LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Women deserve more than just one day

by Irene Chriss, associate editor

The earliest, "National Woman's Day" was February 28, 1909, in New York City, and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. Some claim it was a commemoration of the women’s garment workers’ protest in New York, but researchers allege this a myth intended to detach International Women's Day (IWD) from its socialist origins.

The day remained predominantly a communist holiday until roughly 1967 when it was taken up by second-wave feminists and re-emerged as a day of activism. It is sometimes known in Europe as the "Women's International Day of Struggle.” In the 1970s and 1980s, women's groups were joined by leftists and labor organizations in calling for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care, and the prevention of violence against women.

Now, in the 21st century, IWD has been criticized as heavily diluted and commercialized, particularly in the West, where it is sponsored by major corporations and used to promote general and vague notions of equality, rather than radical social reforms. It is now deemed by some social critics as reminiscent of Mother's Day greetings.

The Atlantic in 2012 published the following commentary:

“There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea ‘let's celebrate women’ — in fact, that's a great idea, and shouldn't be confined to just one day. (For that matter, we should celebrate men, too, and in fact, all humans.) But the trouble with one day designated for that purpose means that, implicitly, we're not doing that in the overall, are we? If we need to call it a day, there's trouble afoot. Beyond that, the way that many people are going about this ‘celebration' — and, we're not criticizing their intentions, which seem good, but the way in which those intentions are playing out — often seems to belittle the women they attempt to support.”

International Women’s Day is March 8. For more information, go to https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

 

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January LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Support democracy by voting for Democrats

by Fred Kuhr, editor

January 6, 2022, marked a dark day in American history — the first anniversary of the Trump-backed Insurrection and invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Many Democrats — and only a handful of Republicans — marked the occasion solemnly and honestly.

The disgraced, twice-impeached former president, who continues to promulgate the Big Lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, marked the anniversary just as one would expect, by sending out a press release (since he can’t tweet) filled with misinformation.

New reporting has also showed that anti-LGBTQ+ ideology was running rampant at the Insurrection. Among those who have been charged so far for their participation in the riot is a slew of leaders in the anti-LGBTQ+ movement. They include Owen Shorter, a host of Alex Jones’ InfoWars; Mark Sahady, vice president of the far-right group Super Happy Fun America; Gina Michelle Bisignano, best known for shouting anti-gay slurs at an anti-mask protest; Suzanne Ianni, operations director of Super Happy Fun America; and Kevin Tuck, an anti-LGBTQ+ YouTuber.

On the side of the Democrats and “future former Republicans,” to borrow a phrase from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, are people like David Cicilline, the openly gay congressman from Rhode Island who was an impeachment manager during the former president’s second impeachment trial.

In an interview with The Hill, Cicilline recounts what it was like to work in Congress during the Insurrection and how it inspired him to start working on the second impeachment. He said that California Congressman Ted Lieu “came into my office because he had been evacuated from his office building.” As they watched the violence on TV, they started “writing what the articles of impeachment would actually look like.”

During the impeachment trial, Cicilline said, “The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists. He celebrated their cause. He validated their attack.” And while many Republican legislators on that day said the former president was responsible, they have backtracked out of fear — placing partisanship and power over democracy and peace.

The differences between the two political parties has never been starker. Please keep that in mind as you register to vote in this year’s elections. Democracy hangs in the balance.

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

 

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December LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Get ready to vote like your rights depend on it

by Fred Kuhr, editor

If no other lesson is learned from the recent U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the Mississippi abortion case known formally as Dobbs v. Jackson, it’s that elections have consequences.

This is something Republicans have known for a long time now. Even during the Trump era, many conservatives were willing to overlook a laundry list of anti-democratic moves and statements — as well as a whole host of other issues and problems too long to rehash here — just because it meant getting Supreme Court nominees that would side with them.

And now it looks like the Court is in a position to either severely hamper or simply overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that has ensured safe and legal abortion rights for almost 50 years.

Make no mistake, if that right can be taken away by the country’s highest court, so could other rights such as marriage equality and sexual freedom, issues that, like abortion, fall under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of personal privacy.

So, with midterm elections coming up in 2022, the need for progressive, liberal, center-left and centrist voters to support Democratic candidates at all levels of government has never been greater. If we lose the Senate, President Biden will never be able to get another judicial nominee through.

The previous president made a mess of things, even violently radicalizing a segment of the electorate. The only way to reverse the damage before it gets any worse is to strengthen the hand of Democrats.

Plan now to request your ballot from your home state in 2022, and vote like your rights depend on it — because they do.

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

 

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November LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Democrats are good for mental health

by Fred Kuhr, co-editor

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we in the LGBTQ+ community have much to be thankful for this year. Most notably, we have a presidential administration full of allies, as well as members of our own community, instead of the hostile environment we all suffered through under the previous administration.

Many of us felt anxiety, depression and stress over those four years. And maybe you thought it was just you, your family, and your friends feeling this way.

But according to two new studies, those feelings were widespread. The conclusion? The Trump Administration was bad for LGBTQ+ mental health.

A report by Associate Professor Masanori Kuroki at Arkansas Tech University, which will be published in December in the journal Economics and Human Biology, shows that “extreme mental distress” increased among LGBTQ+ people during Trump’s rise and presidency.

The findings suggest “that the Biden Administration may have inherited higher rates of mental distress among LGBT people [than they would have] if Trump had not run and won the 2016 election.”

Another study from Adrienne Grzenda, an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to compare “frequent mental distress” reported by different populations.

"A clear association exists between the 2016 election and the changeover to a decisively anti-LGBT administration and the worsening mental health of sexual and gender minority adults,” according to the report published in the journal LGBT Health.

The study also shows that bisexual and transgender people were hit the hardest by mental health distress during those years.

While both studies show an increase of mental health issues during the previous administration, all is not back to normal. Researchers agree that even while the previous president is not in the White House, “The ongoing introduction of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the states continues to expose LGBTQ people, especially children, to the risk of significant mental health consequences,” reported NBC News.

So while it’s easy to get complacent now that an ally is in the White House, we have to continue to stay involved and vote like our mental health depends on it — because it does.

(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)

 

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October LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: Looking back at our history, looking forward to the future

by Fred Kuhr, co-editor

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and openly gay Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline — the lead sponsor of the Equality Act, which seeks to outlaw anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination across the country — is one of the “icons” being honored this year by lgbthistorymonth.com. Another member of our community being honored as an icon is Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

In being honored this year, Cicilline and Jean-Pierre are in the company of such notable LGBTQ+ luminaries as Susan B. Anthony, W.H. Auden and Janis Ian.

This month reminds us that it is important both to look at where we are right now as a community, but also where we came from in the past, so that we may appreciate how far we’ve come and understand how far we still have to go.

Not coincidentally, October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In this month’s issue of the newsletter, Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair Bob Vallier looks at some of the history behind our communal coming out of the closet so that we may better understand all that we have gone through as a political movement for equality.

Part of that coming out took place 10 years ago last month. In September 2011, President Barack Obama — with then-Vice President Joe Biden at his side — signed the repeal of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.” That policy forced LGBTQ+ service personnel to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or gender identity under penalty of discharge. Over 100,000 LGBTQ+ servicemembers were discharged under the policy.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and many in the community were angered by this. But Clinton, who wanted a full repeal of what was then an all-out ban on LGBTQ+ service personnel, was blocked by Republicans in Congress — a situation that is nothing new for Democratic presidents who want to do something progressive in the interest of equality and justice. So a compromise was reached, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became the policy.

What’s hard to remember given how far we’ve come is that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was indeed progress in the mid-1990s. Clinton may have given us a policy that no one liked, but it took a cultural shift over the next 15 or so years in order for Obama to be able to repeal it.

One more example why it’s important to look back in order to look forward.

(Editors’ note: As of this issue of the newsletter, Fred Kuhr and Irene Chriss will be the co-editors.)

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September LGBTQ+ Newsletter

Editorial: A new caucus chair and much news to catch up on

by Betsy Ettorre and Fred Kuhr, co-editors

This month we’d like to welcome Bob Vallier as our new Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Global Caucus Chair. Bob has been active in DA for a number of years and is currently DA Italy Vice Chair and Chair — Central Italy chapter. We welcome him as chair and look forward to his leadership in this important work for the LGBTQ+ community.

We’d also that to thank Martha McDevitt-Pugh for her service to the Caucus for the past eight years. We are grateful to her for her commitment to building up the DA LGBTQ+ Caucus.

Co-editor Fred Kuhr reports on important LGBTQ+ news including a group of senators urging support for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, more LGBTQ+ appointments in the Biden Administration, and Pete and Chasten Buttigieg’s new babies.

Irene Chriss and Betsy Ettorre worked together on an article about the California recall election and its impact on LGBTQ+ rights. As many of you know, a similar 2003 California recall had a serious impact on our community. So our important work supporting politicians who support our community continues.

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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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