Under a President Mitt Romney, there are at least 22 advances in LGBT civil rights delivered by President Barack Obama that most likely will disappear. While Nancy Pelosi and, to a far lesser extent, Harry Reid, have worked to support civil rights and protections for the gay community, Barack Obama has — sometimes with great fanfare, oftentimes in the shadows — delivered important advances.
Back in 2010, at Change.org, I wrote a somewhat controversial (at the time) article, “Obama’s Gay Rights Come With An Expiration Date,” which stated:
President Obama should know better than to incrementalize gay rights, and tie them to his presidency. And yet, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
President Obama has slowly and quietly doled out rights to the LGBTQ community. These are rights we should have by the very nature of our existence, rights that every other American has upon birth, but the president has doled them out cautiously, meekly, without pomp or circumstance, and, worse, he has tied them to his presidency.
This tactic is problematic for two reasons.
First, by expanding our civil rights by issuing executive orders and memoranda, President Obama’s gay civil rights come with an expiration date. Yes, that’s right. The rights he has decreed, without working through Congress, are tied to his presidency. Any of his successors can, simply with the stroke of a pen, wipe out all our hard-earned rights, just because he or she wants to. Do you honestly think the next Republican presidentÂ won’tÂ do that?
Today, the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson posts a long list of 21 LGBT advances a President Romney could — with the stroke of a pen or incrementally — make disappear into a more progressive history.
Asking, “Would President Romney undo pro-LGBT advances?,” Johnson notes:
Many of the pro-LGBT advances that have happened under the Obama administration occurred through changes made by the executive branch rather than through legislation. Changes that were made without the consent of Congress could be reversed under an administration that wanted to cozy up to the religious right.
The Washington Blade has identified five regulatory changes and 16 sub-regulatory changes enacted by the Obama administration that could be reversed if Romney were elected to the White House. These changes include giving greater recognition to same-sex couples, protecting federal LGBT workers against discrimination and ensuring the federal government recognizes the correct gender of transgender people.
The one Johnson doesn’t include in his list of “five regulatory changes and 16 sub-regulatory changes” is the most-obvious: Obama’s support of same-sex marriage equality.
Here’s the list from the Blade:
The Administrative Procedures Act provides safeguards against politically motivated policy switches.Â Thus repealing the policies below would involve a multi-year process.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted a regulation ending the ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.
- President Obama issued Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 directing HHS to issue regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare to prohibit discrimination in visitation against LGBT people.Â HHS issued a final regulation that went into effect in early 2011.
- HUD issued final regulations in January 2012 prohibiting discrimination in federal public housing programs and federally insured mortgage loans.Â HUD also requires its grantees to comply with LGBT-inclusive state and local housing discrimination protections.
- The Office of Personnel Management published final regulations in the Federal Register expanding the eligibility for long-term care coverage to same-sex partners and sick leave to care for a same-sex partner.
- Â The federal Prison Rape Elimination Commission proposed national standards to reduce sexual abuse in correctional facilities, including standards regarding LGBT and intersex inmates. They were later instituted as a rule finalized by the Justice Department last month.
Sub-Regulatory Guidance/Policy Announcements
These are policy advances instituted by â€” and subject to the will of â€” the administration.
- The Department of Health and Human Services revised its funding guidance around abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs, requiring that recipient programs are inclusive of and non-stigmatizing toward LGBT youth.
- HHS, in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice, launchedÂ stopbullyingnow.com.
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently released new 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards.Â These new standards provide guidance that aims to improve treatment of LGBT and HIV-positive people in detention facilities.
- In summer 2011, ICE published a memo and clarifying guidance providing that an individualâ€™s family relationships, including a same-sex relationship, would be considered as a factor in labeling certain deportations as low-priority deportations.
- The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced a proposed regulatory change expanding the meaning of â€œmembers of a family residing in one householdâ€ for the purposes of the customs declaration form, which must be completed prior to re-entry to the United States.
- The DOJ issued an opinion clarifying that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act related to stalking and abuse apply equally to same-sex partners.
- The State Department revised the standards for changing a gender marker on a passport, making the process less burdensome for transgender people.
- In September 2011, the Social Security Administration confirmed that it ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). This resulted in the immediate cessation of SSA sending notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employeeâ€™s W-2 does not match Social Security records.
- The State Department extended numerous benefits to the partners of Foreign Service officers, including diplomatic passports and access to emergency evacuation.
- The State Department reversed a Bush administration policy that refused to use a same-sex marriage license as evidence of a name change for passports.
- The Department of Education issued guidance clarifying when student bullying may violate federal law, distributed a memo outlining key components of strong state anti-bullying laws and policies and made clear to public schools that gay-straight alliances have a right to form and meet.
- The Department of Education published guidance and, in coordination with the Department of Justice, has pursued Title IX complaints filed by LGBT students experiencing harassment based on sex or sex stereotyping.
- OPM added gender identity to the equal employment opportunity policy governing all federal jobs.
- The Department of Labor issued guidance clarifying that an employee can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a same-sex partnerâ€™s child.
- The IRS clarified that domestic partners (and their children) can be designated beneficiaries for VEBA funding/payment purposes.
- The Census Bureau overturned the Bush administrationâ€™s interpretation of the Defense of Marriage Act and agreed to release data on married same-sex couples along with other demographic information from the 2010 Census.
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Trump to Announce Billions in Aid To Puerto Rico in Desperate Attempt to Win Florida
President Donald Trump on Friday will announce a multi-billion dollar federal aid package for Puerto Rico, with most of the funds to be used to rebuild the U.S. territory’s power grid, devastated by hurricanes that attack the island every year.
The desperately needed assistance comes after Trump has spent his entire tenure in office attacking Puerto Rico, its leaders, and complaining repeatedly about congressionally-approved funds for the overlooked island. Recently it was revealed he wanted to sell Puerto Rico, after the 2017 Hurricane Maria that took the lives of 3059 people, and did nearly $92 billion in damage.
CBS News’ David Begnaud broke the story:
Scoop: Tomorrow, the White House will announce several major disaster aid packages for Puerto Rico, amounting to the largest allotment of disaster aid in U.S. history. Most of the money will be used to rebuild the power grid that was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, 3yrs ago today.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 18, 2020
Trump has fought giving assistance to Puerto Rico, and called it “one of the most corrupt places on earth.”
Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
He denied the death toll from Hurricane Maria, which in large part came from his mismanagement of the crisis. Some have said his performance then was a precursor of his disastrous performance with the coronavirus pandemic.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
Others note the announcement comes just weeks before the presidential election, and see it as an attempt to win Florida. Many Puerto Ricans moved to Florida after Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but do not have the right to vote. Those who moved to Florida do, after changing their residence.
They likely will not forget his visit in October of 2017, when he threw rolls of paper towels to Puerto Ricans in need at a disaster relief distribution center near San Juan.
The amount of federal funds appears to be in flux, with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying the White House agreed to nearly $10 billion, and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez Garced, saying $13 billion. There are multiple aid packages which could account for the different amounts.
‘We’re Screwed’: New Details Emerge About Jared Kushner’s Refusal to Help Battle COVID-19
Jared Kushner resisted taking a role in fighting the coronavirus pandemic from the very beginning, according to a new report about the White House response.
A bipartisan group of heavy hitters and business leaders met March 20 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss how to make and distribute personal protective equipment, and certain government officials urged them to return the next day to meet with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, reported Vanity Fair.
“The federal government is not going to lead this response,” Kushner told the group at the start of the meeting, seated in a chair taller than the others around the conference table. “It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.”
Kushner had formed a “shadow task force” that ran parallel to one led by Vice President Mike Pence, and private sector representatives had pledged to produce PPEs if the federal government promised to buy them, and they wanted the president to invoke the Defense Production Act to make that happen quickly.
“We were all saying, ‘Mr. Kushner, if you want to fix this problem for PPE and ventilators, there’s a path to do it, but you have to make a policy change,’” recalled one person who attended the meeting.
Kushner got “very aggressive” and insisted they didn’t understand how government worked as well as he did, although that attendee said his arguments “made no sense.”
“It felt like Kushner was the president,” that person said. “He sat in the chair and he was clearly making the decisions.”
One attendee told Kushner that Americans were bidding against each other for the limited supply of PPE, and that person explained that businesses that wanted to help were looking for leadership from the federal government.
“Free markets will solve this,” Kushner replied. “That is not the role of government.”
That same person agreed that open markets could solve many problems, but he said the system was breaking under the crisis, pointing to a CNN report about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desperation for supplies.
“That’s the CNN bullsh*t,” Kushner told that person. “They lie.”
Another attendee said that prompted a rant by Kushner against the Democratic governor.
“Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state,” Kushner said. “His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
Other attendees were shocked and alarmed.
“That’s when I was like, we’re screwed,” an attendee said.
Biden Slams Trump: If the President Had Any Confidence He Was Likely to Win the Election He Wouldn’t Be Doing This
Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump in a CNN town hall Thursday night.
“The president just this morning,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper told Biden, “tweeted that the results from the November election ‘may never be accurately determined.’ Given everything that we’ve been hearing from the president I’m wondering what you expect the days and weeks after the election to look like.”
“Look,” Biden responded, “if the president had even remote confidence he was likely to win the election he wouldn’t be doing this.”
“Remember,” Biden continued, “I said some months ago, I predict the president is going to try to move the election date. Everybody said he’d never do that. Guess what, he suggested maybe we should move the election date, postpone the election.”
“I mean,” Biden concluded, after slamming the postmaster general, “it’s just, it’s all about trying to de legitimize the effort.”
Biden on Trump tweeting that the results from November's election may never be accurately determined: "If the president had even remote confidence he was likely to win the election, he wouldn't be doing this." pic.twitter.com/db1xSynZFr
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 18, 2020
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