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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Former US Attorney Calls for ‘Full Investigation’ After Report Secret Service Failed to Share Threat Against Pelosi
A former U.S. Attorney is calling for a full investigation into the U.S. Secret Service’s failure to share intelligence it had detailing a violent threat against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats.
“This is deeply disturbing,” says Joyce Vance, who is now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. She says it “requires a full investigation.”
“The Capitol Police are responsible for protecting the Speaker,” Vance continues. “If true” that the U.S. Secret Service “failed to pass on intelligence about threats, that’s very alarming.”
Vance points to a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that finds the Secret Service discovered a violent social media based threat on January 4, 2021, two days before the insurrection, but did not share that intelligence with the Capitol Police until nearly 6 PM ET on January 6.
The U.S. Secret Service is an agency under the Dept. of Homeland Security. The DHS Inspector General, Joseph Cuffari, is under investigation by two powerful House Committee chairs who on Tuesday accused him of “obstruction.”
In a separate report CREW reveals that “days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol, documents exchanged between the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies outlined ‘threats of violence’ on the 6th, coming ‘predominantly from right wing groups’ with ‘plans to bring weapons into the District,’ according to documents obtained by CREW. The Secret Service knew that Trump’s supporters would be demonstrating around Freedom Plaza and the Capitol with the intent to cause violence, but the agency does not appear to have taken the threat seriously.”
“While the Secret Service downplayed threats posed by right-wing extremist groups and Trump’s supporters leading up to January 6, the newly obtained documents reveal just how grave and explicit the threats had actually been,” CREW alleges.
Image via Shutterstock
Secret Service Held Onto Violent Jan. 6 Threat Against Pelosi, Watchdog Says
Two days before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump the U.S. Secret Service discovered a “series of violent threats” made on social media, including against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, but did not pass them on to the Capitol Police until the evening of January 6 – after the violence of the insurrection had ended, a watchdog reports.
“On January 4, Secret Service agents discovered a Parler account, which we’ve chosen not to name, posting a series of violent threats towards lawmakers. Other profiles with the same name appeared on Twitter, MeWe, Bitchute, Youtube and Facebook,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveals.
“On December 31, the account posted, ‘January 6 starts #1776 all over again…Fight for EVERYTHING’ and listed ‘Enemies,’ including Pelosi. At 5:55 pm on January 6, after hours of defending the United States Capitol from a violent mob, the United States Capitol Police received the post along with a message from the Secret Service.”
“The language used by the account, as we’ve now seen repeated in recordings released by the January 6th Committee, is a clear call for a violent overthrow of the American government on January 6, 2021,” CREW adds.
The Secret Service found what CREW calls other “troubling” posts tied to that account.
“Biden will die shortly after being elected,” the account posted on January 2, four days before the insurrection. “Patriots are gonna tear his head off. Prison is his best case scenario.”
“We’re all on a mission to save America. Lone wolf attacks are the way to go,” read a Jan. 3 post. “Stay anonymous. Stay alive. Guns up Patriots!!”
CREW takes the Secret Service to task.
“In the past month, we’ve learned that the Secret Service failed to prepare for violence on January 6 despite receiving explicit warnings, then deleted key evidence from the day, likely breaking the law,” the nonpartisan watchdog reports, presumably referring to the deleted text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021. “The delay in notifying Capitol Police about the threat to the Speaker of the House only adds to the impression that the agency failed to do its job, and leads to more questions. Why did the agency wait two days, until after the Capitol had been breached and Congressional leaders were in hiding to pass it along?”
Watch: Pence Says He Would ‘Consider’ Appearing Before J6 Committee if Offered ‘Invitation’ to ‘Participate’
Former Vice President Mike Pence, asked if he would testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, said if invited he would “consider” participating.
“If there’s an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said Wednesday morning at a political event in New Hampshire, a state presidential hopefuls visit early and often. “It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, but as I’ve said, I don’t want to prejudge.”
In fact, as NBC News producer Frank Thorp V noted, “It would not, actually, be unprecedented for a VP to testify on Capitol Hill.”
Pence, as he often does, tried to frame his remarks in a historic context.
“Under the Constitution, we have three coequal branches of government, and um, any invitation that’d be directed to me, I’d have to reflect on the unique role I was serving in as Vice President.”
Thorp notes that “Vice President Schuyler Colfax testified before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Credit Mobilier on January 7, 1873, which was while he was in office.” He also points out that President Abraham Lincoln and President Woodrow Wilson testified before Congress.
Politico’s Kyle Cheney adds that “many” of Pence’s “former top aides have testified at length, presumably with his blessing.”
Pointing to the video below, law professor and CNN contributor Steve Vladeck noted Wednesday morning that “Former Vice President Ford testified before Congress in October 1974 … while he was PRESIDENT.” He also notes that “former Presidents (to say nothing of former VPs) have testified before Congress *sixteen* times.”
NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss says the former vice president “needs to testify fully under oath before the House January 6 Committee — and he must not take the Fifth.”
Watch Pence below or at this link:
Former Vice President Mike Pence when asked if he would cooperate if the January 6th committee called on him to testify:
“If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it.” pic.twitter.com/y9NFrHwYtf
— The Recount (@therecount) August 17, 2022
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