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Exclusive: GetEQUAL’s New Chair Discusses 2012 Focus – ‘We Can’t Wait!’

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Editor’s note: We are proud and excited that GetEQUAL’s new Chair is Tanya Domi, a tireless LGBT and civil rights activist, Columbia University professor, and the Deputy Editor of The New Civil Rights Movement. She honors us and our community daily.

Today I have the honor to assume the position of chair of the Board of Directors of GetEQUAL, taking over from my colleague Dr. Jillian Weiss, who has served faithfully, with wisdom and skill in this position during the past two years of GetEQUAL’s ascendency to the national stage.

This is a challenging moment for the LGBT civil rights movement, with President Barack Obama — considered to be the most gay-friendly and to have done more for the LGBT community than any other president in U.S. history — seeking re-election. But that bar is quite low. Despite his support, we are far from equal. And for GetEQUAL supporters we simply can’t wait–our lives matter and the consequences of injustice affect us and our families everyday of our lives in America.

Our marriages remain banned and unrecognized under federal law. In the states where we can marry, those marriages do not qualify our foreign national partners for legal immigration. Not withstanding a Glee sequel each week or the daily Ellen DeGeneres talk show on television, we can be fired for being LGBT from our jobs in a majority of states. We have no federal protection from job discrimination. We have tenuous claims to housing discrimination protections based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite the revocation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, lesbian, gay and bi-sexual service members can be discriminated against legally, while transgender service members were wholly excluded. Health care benefits for partners can be out of reach or become a financial burden when we are forced to pay taxes for compensation for benefits because we are not married or unable to marry.

GetEQUAL Activists in Los Angeles

Recently, Valerie Jarrett, friend and adviser to President Obama, held a two-hour meeting to tell the LGBT community that the president would not be signing an Executive Order banning discrimination among federal contractors, and instead he would be supporting passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by Congress. (GetQUAL strongly supports a fully-inclusive ENDA.)

Some LGBT commentators called the meeting a two-hour train wreck, but no doubt, I would call it a disasterous beginning to the re-elect Obama for America campaign with the LGBT community.  The New York Times and The Washington Post in staff editorials strongly condemned the White House decision and urged Mr. Obama to sign the Executive Order expeditiously.

National Democratic Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias, who is gay, recently wrote in The Advocate that this is not the time to demand Obama’s signature on the Executive Order for federal contractors.  We can wait, Tobias said, because our demands put the election at risk, including the Supreme Court.  He forgot to include some important facts according to Jonathan Lewis (disclaimer, Lewis is a major donor to GetEQUAL) that the American public already believes that LGBT workers are protected from discrimination in the workplace and this is an issue of fairness. Indeed, according to Lewis, President Obama said in 2008 he would sign the executive order acknowledging it would be difficult to pass ENDA in Congress. President Obama has signed more than 100 other executive orders to date.

GetEQUAL Activist in Columbus, Ohio

GetEQUAL views its role during the campaign period in the run-up to the election as that of accountability of both parties (and any third parties if they are competing). Thus, we take President Obama at his word that he will fulfill his promise to sign an executive order during his first administration that would require contractors to honor LGBT nondiscrimination practices in hiring and firing.  Our activists have been making the rounds of Obama for America campaign offices all across the country, dropping off writing pens and engaging in conversations with campaign staff members, many of whom are not aware of the Obama 2008 promise or knowledgeable about the insurmountable problems LGBT persons face in unprotected workplaces.

GetEQUAL will remain engaged throughout the campaign period through election day as only GetEQUAL can–by illuminating bigorty, discrimination and basic unfairness that are antithetical to American values and principles. All of us in the LGBT community are deserving of what is best about America too.

I hope you’ll sign the GetEQUAL petition urging President Obama to reconsider his decision and to sign the Executive Order to ban LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. You can learn more about the federal contractor executive order by reading Jillian Weiss’s informative blog.

I want to thank Dr. Jillian Weiss for her outstanding leadership during the past two years. She has worked tirelessly with the Robin McGehee, Heather Cronk, and the members of the Board of Directors, moving the organization from a small but dedicated group, to a much larger group of trained activists around the country who have played a major role in both national and local efforts to secure full equality now. While we have many organizations dedicated to LGBT civil rights,  GetEQUAL plays a vital role as the only LGBT organization dedicated to an “outside” strategy that works to put pressure on reluctant politicians and to hold accountable those who stand in the way, through our direct nonviolent action.

GetEQUAL, I’m proud to point out to our readers and audience, is one of the few national organizations — if not the only one — which has had a transgender person, Dr. Jillian Weiss, as a Board chair. GetEQUAL has put the capital “T” in the LGBT acronym, by including trans activists and trans issues in actions around the country. Autumn Sandeen, also a member of GetEQUAL’s Board of Directors, and a Navy veteran, was arrested during the White House DADT protest action by GetEQUAL in November 2010.

We are grateful Jill Weiss will remain active with our Board of Directors where I know she will continue to make a vital contribution. She is one of the country’s leading  authorities on transgender issues in the workplace and a regular contributor at the Bilerico Project, where she reports and opines on LGBT issues. Go there and read her work, you will learn a lot!

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in East Central Europe and the former Yugoslavia. She is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi also worked internationally in a dozen countries for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom. She is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.

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News

‘Supposed to Be Hard’: Political Experts Explain Their Thinking on Biden and the Election

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Two weeks after the political class’s response to President Joe Biden’s poor debate performance threw the 2024 election into chaos, four political experts share their thinking about where the race actually stands and what Biden’s supporters should do.

“He can’t win right!? They point to the polling right?” wrote political strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher, a frequent NBC News/MSNBC political analyst, linking to a report about the latest polls which show President Biden ahead of Donald Trump. “Well this is the 2nd poll (credible poll) in 2 days showing the Pres race in statistical deadlock two weeks after debate! Using polls to push Biden out feels like red wave 2020 bs all over again.”

Belcher was commenting on the latest Marist College poll produced for NPR/PBS NewsHour. It found Biden beating Trump 50-48 in a one-to-one matchup. When factoring in the four third-party/independent candidates including RFK Jr., Trump came out ahead of Biden, 43-42.

FiveThirtyEight’s regularly updated polling aggregator currently shows Trump up over Biden by 1.9 points, a drop from Thursday where he was more than two points over Biden. FiveThirtyEight also currently shows; “Biden wins 50 times out of 100 in our simulations of the 2024 presidential election. Trump wins 49 times out of 100.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Former Republican and former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer, a resident scholar at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, says the Democratic “freak out needs to stop.”

“Enough.”

Pointing to that same Marist poll, she focuses on a different question.

“This poll also shows character matters more than age. That’s to Biden’s advantage.”

NPR’s headline on its article detailing the poll reads: “After Biden’s debate performance, the presidential race is unchanged.”

“Biden actually gained a point since last month’s survey, which was taken before the debate,” NPR reports, adding: “the survey also found that by a 2-to-1 margin, 68% to 32%, people said it’s more concerning to have a president who doesn’t tell the truth than one who might be too old to serve.”

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

To Setmayer’s point, NPR also says, “A majority said Biden has the character to be president (52%), while a majority also said Trump does not (56%).”

Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, offered advice to Biden supporters on how to think about Democrats and pundits pushing for the President to drop out of the race, and how to deal with the day-to-day emotional toll.

“Getting lots of questions on how to lower the anxiety level people are feeling. Best thing you can do is unfollow the people attacking Biden gratuitously. Don’t engage them. Unfollow them. It’s not an honest discussion. It’s a frenzy that’s doing real damage.”

“You will not get an explanation from the political arsonists fueling this panic,” he added. “Stop looking for one. Unfollow them. Drop your subscription. Quit listening. That’s the best thing you can do in the pro-democracy fight right now. Their gaslighting is now a suppression tactic.”

To someone who said they are “scared,” and the situation is “confusing, maddening and sad,” Madrid advised: “Nothing has changed. Stop watching TV and get off Twitter. Take the weekend off. Please.”

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a political strategist for decades and author of “The Conspiracy To End America,” writes: “I worked in campaigns for 30 years. I am hardwired to respond one way when your guy is in trouble: fight harder. Don’t start looking for exit ramps or magic bullets. Play the next play. Do your job. Ignore the scoreboard. It’s supposed to be hard.”

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

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News

RFK Jr. Apology Over Sexual Assault Allegation ‘Disingenuous’ – Unsure if More to Come

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent candidate running for president, has apologized to the woman who accused him of sexual assault, and separately told reporters he does not know if there are more potential accusers.

The 70-year old anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist who has said a worm ate a portion of his brain, has not denied allegations of sexual misconduct. A recent Vanity Fair profile reports that in 1998, Eliza Cooney, 23-years old at the time and working as a part-time baby sitter for RFK Jr. and his wife’s children, felt his “hand moving up and down her leg under the table” during “a meeting in the family kitchen.”

There are other allegations in the Vanity Fair profile that include Kennedy being shirtless in Cooney’s bedroom and asking her to rub lotion on his back, which she said was “totally inappropriate.”

And this: “A few months later, Cooney says, she was rifling through the kitchen pantry for lunch after a yoga class, still in her sports bra and leggings, when Kennedy came up behind her, blocked her inside the room, and began groping her, putting his hands on her hips and sliding them up along her rib cage and breasts. ‘My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,’ she says, describing the alleged sexual assault. ‘I was frozen. Shocked.’ ”

RELATED: ‘What in the F’: RFK Jr. in Photo With Alleged ‘Barbecued’ Dog Carcass Disgusts Critics

The Washington Post Friday morning reported RFK Jr. “privately apologized to a woman who accused him of sexual assault, saying he does not remember the alleged incident and that any harm he caused was ‘inadvertent.’ ”

“’I have no memory of this incident but I apologize sincerely for anything I ever did that made you feel uncomfortable or anything I did or said that offended you or hurt your feelings,’ Kennedy wrote in a text message to Cooney sent at 12:33 a.m. on July 4, two days after her accusations became public. ‘I never intended you any harm. If I hurt you, it was inadvertent. I feel badly for doing so.’ ”

Cooney told The Post that Kennedy’s texted message was “disingenuous and arrogant.”

“I’m not sure how somebody has a true apology for something that they don’t admit to recalling. I did not get a sense of remorse.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Also on Friday, hidden in the middle of a Boston Globe soft profile of the presidential candidate whose support has reportedly now hit ten percent – possibly enough to change the outcome of the election – is Kennedy’s apparent acknowledgment there could be more allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Asked if other women might come forward with similar allegations he said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.’ ”

The Globe notes Kennedy “is currently on the ballot in nine states, and submitted enough signatures to eventually get on the ballot in 15 states. There are five other states where the campaign claims to have enough signatures but hasn’t turned in them in yet, in some cases because the window to do so hasn’t opened.”

FiveThirtyEight reports there is a 58% chance the election “is decided by a smaller margin than the vote share for third-party candidates,” meaning Kennedy, who has the largest portion of third party votes, may have the potential to change the election outcome.

In a parenthetical addition, Vanity Fair updated its report, writing: “After this story was published, Kennedy told the Breaking Points podcast, in response to Cooney’s allegations, that he is ‘not a church boy… I have so many skeletons in my closet.’ When pressed to respond directly to her claims, he told the anchor, ‘I’m not going to comment on it.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

 

 

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OPINION

Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

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Following President Joe Biden’s 58-minute long unscripted, solo press conference without a teleprompter, fielding questions from reporters and responding with nuance and depth on a range of issues including foreign and domestic policy, some critics are calling on his opponent, ex-president Donald Trump, to do the same.

It’s been a long time since Trump has held an actual unscripted, lengthy, solo press conference, with questions from reporters, and well-over a year since he did one that wasn’t centered on his legal crises.

“When is last time Trump did an hour long press conference? Anyone know?” asked Bloomberg News’ Steven Dennis Thursday night after the President’s press conference.

“So now the media will demand that Trump hold an hour-long press conference on complex foreign policy issues — right?” snarked attorney and legal commentator Tristan Snell, who headed the successful New York State civil prosecution of Trump University.

READ MORE: ‘Dead Heat’: Biden Ahead or Tied With Trump in Two New Post-Debate Polls

“Trump is getting a free pass just like he did in 2016. No way he could do a press conference for 40 minutes after 3 long days with world leaders. He is incoherent most of time when he’s not spewing bile,” declared CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney Friday morning.

“It’s now time for the corporate media to dissect every word Trump says for the next two weeks, have debates on his mental state, amplify the small number of Republicans who want Trump to drop out and demand he hold a press conference where we can dissect him even more,” remarked attorney and SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah Friday morning.

“Per CSPAN last time Trump held a press conference that approached an hour in length at which he took questions from reporters, he was still president,” observed Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Friday morning.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

He adds, “Per the CSPAN archive, the last time Donald Trump took questions from reporters in a press conference was on February 8th. National and campaign reporters made an issue of the lack of press conferences with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. To date, they have not done so with Trump.”

On November 8, 2022, from Mar-a-Lago, after polls closed, Donald Trump delivered remarks discussing the midterm elections. He spoke for about four minutes to supporters and took no questions from reporters, whom he mocked. (Full C-SPAN video.)

Semafor’s David Weigel argues, “A lot of the ‘whatabout Trump’ stuff is cope, but he really is getting an easy ride with interviewers compared to 2016 or 2020.”

“Most of his interviews are softball-fests. When he did All-In the campaign had to clean up his green card/diploma answer.”

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

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