Secretary of State John Kerry delivered his first Pride remarks at the State Department yesterday, curiously focusing mostly on domestic politics toward LGBT issues and the rapid, positive change in US public opinion.
Secretary of State John Kerry delivered his first Pride remarks, to the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) at the State Department yesterday, which included Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shephard, who was slain in 1998 in a horrible hate crime, and Mara KeislingÂ from the National Center for Transgender Equality.
His remarks were curiously dominated by mostly references to U.S. domestic politics and LGBT issues in his role as a U.S. Senator in addressing them. During the speech he stated that he had voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and shared his personal experiences in dealing with anti-gay Strom Thurmond:
So we have an enormous challenge ahead of us, and all of you, every single person here, because you have the privilege of being here in this building, in this freedom, able to talk about this; it is because of that that you actually bear also a larger responsibility. When I voted, as Ken said, in 1996, I donâ€™t claim any great act of courage. Maybe it was because I did represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but nevertheless I was proud to be the only person running for reelection that year in those 14 who actually voted against DOMA. And I am confident that if the Supreme Court adheres to the law and to precedent, that it must be found unconstitutional.
Kerry did not address U.S. foreign policy on LGBT human rights until nearly the 22nd paragraph of a 29 paragraph speech, although his first remarks were preceded by several paragraphs about the State Department’s supportive personnel policies for LGBT foreign service officers and their families.
He finally spoke about the tragic circumstances now haunting the LGBT communities in Eastern Europe and violence precipitated toward transgender persons in Latin America and Asia:
I think everybody here knows this isnâ€™t automatic, not always an easy path. There is fear, and from the fear, the hate that sometimes comes with it that translates too often into violence. We still see anti-propaganda laws in Eastern Europe that are targeting LGBT demonstrators. We still hear reports of violence amongst â€“ against transgender persons in Latin America and Asia. We still see the enforcement of archaic sodomy laws in the Caribbean, and we see abuse and incarceration of LGBT activists in Africa.
Emerging at this year’s Pride event was the presence of Acting Assistant Secretary Uzra Zeya from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor–which is known as the “Secretary of “Human Rights” within the State Department. Â She is replacing Michael Posner, who has since left the State Department to teach at New York University. Â Ms. Zeya is a career State Department officer, which is ordinarily filled by a well known human rights advocate. Â It will be interesting to follow her public advocacy on LGBT human rights during the next three years.
It was not surprising that the Shepard family was in the audience this years, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enlisted them to tour five Eastern European countries on behalf of the new State Department foreign policy on LGBT human rights in 2012. Â They have been actively supportive of advancing a foreign policy of dignity and respect toward the LGBT communities abroad.
Image of Secretary Kerry speaking at the Pride Event is courtesy of the U.S. State Department
Tanya L. DomiÂ is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement. Â She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs atÂ Columbia UniversityÂ and teaches human rights in East Central Europe andÂ former Yugoslavia. 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 has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
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‘We’re Not There Yet’: House Republican Hasn’t Seen Any Evidence to ‘Get Anywhere Near Impeachment’
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) hasn’t seen anything worthy of impeachment dredged up by the House Republican investigations of President Joe Biden and his family.
The New York Republican, who recently ripped his GOP colleagues as a “clown show” over their failure to produce a government spending agreement, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’s dubious of the impeachment inquiry launched by House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and suggested the process was being undertaken as revenge for Donald Trump’s two impeachments.
“Look, these investigations obviously started earlier this year in Oversight and Judiciary [and] they are continuing,” Lawler said. “As I have said repeatedly, we are not there yet with impeachment. There is a very high bar. It should not be political, it should not be tit-for-tat, and the facts and the evidence will determine what, if any steps are taken after this.”
At the end of the day, you know, a lot of this is semantics – it’s a continuation of the investigation,” the congressman added. “The ultimate question is whether or not the facts or evidence would bear out that Joe Biden somehow financially benefited from his son’s deals with Russian oligarchs, Ukrainian oligarchs, Iranian business folks and the Chinese. If that’s the case, the facts and evidence will show that, and if not, I don’t see how you get anywhere near impeachment.”
White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown
In a rare move the Biden White House on Wednesday mocked House Republicans with a popular internet meme to highlight remarks made by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that show how the Florida Republican is blaming the impending, likely shutdown of the federal government on Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Congressman Gaetz specifically says “We cannot blame Joe Biden” and “We cannot blame House Democrats” for it.
Gaetz, who did not vote to hand McCarthy the gavel back in January, for weeks has increasingly been targeting the House Speaker. Last week he threatened he would get McCarthy removed as Speaker, going as far as to say he was “out of compliance.” On Tuesday a reporter found a resolution with links to Gaetz declaring the Office of the Speaker “vacant” on a baby changing table in a House restroom.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind reported on Gaetz’s comments via social media, “MATT GAETZ pins shutdown on McCarthy: ‘We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
The White House reposted them, and the “worst person” meme, known as the “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.” The meme was published in 2018 by Clickhole. a satirical website.
The federal government will shut down in 10 days if Speaker McCarthy cannot pass legislation to keep the government funded after September 30. That legislation will need to be acceptable to the Senate, and President Joe Biden. House Republicans, intent on stripping funding for Ukraine, defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, along with the Dept. of Justice and FBI, are digging in their heels amid “chaos” and “infighting.” Some have called it a GOP “civil war.”
See the White House’s post below or at this link.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2023
‘Brazen and Misguided’: Schumer Decimates Tuberville’s ‘Act of Desperation’ – and Threatens to Hold Senators in DC
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took strong action on Wednesday, slamming U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, vowing to get several officers in the U.S. Armed Forces confirmed to top posts, and threatening that if the Georgia Republican lawmaker who has blockaded well over 300 military promotions does not release his holds he will hold Senators in D.C. over the weekend.
“In an act of desperation, Sen. Tuberville is trying to use a procedural step to overcome his own holds,” Majority Leader Schumer wrote on social media Wednesday afternoon, before delivering a floor speech. “You read it right. His own holds.”
“He is trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted or languish,” Schumer added. “We can’t allow this to continue. We’re taking action.”
On the floor of the Senate he added: “We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to decide which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted and which get to languish. Which military families are able to settle in their new posts, and which must remain in limbo. We cannot we should not allow that to be the case.”
“So I have just filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff. These men should have already been confirmed. They should already be serving in their new positions,” Schumer said. “The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided senator.”
“But this is where we are. In the end, the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to overcome Senator Tuberville’s blockade of these three nominees by voting for cloture then the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them,” he vowed. “And these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions and the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
It is rare for a Senate Leader to target one member of the body, and even more rare to do so by name, but Senator Tuberville’s blockade, which he began in February, has harmed military readiness, according to multiple top Pentagon officials and former officials.
Tuberville has said he has blocked at least 319 military promotions, which require Senate confirmation, in response to the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing service members who need to travel out of state to obtain abortion health care services. Many GOP-majority states have imposed abortion bans, forcing out-of travel.
But Schumer’s reference to “gatekeeper,” and later, in his floor speech saying, “which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted,” may also refer to Tuberville’s unprecedented personal attacks on individual officers awaiting promotion.
Last month the Georgia freshman Republican Senator targeted over 20 individual U.S. Military officers, promoting an attack on their remarks supporting diversity and equity programs, or even, in one case, blasting one officer for their “celebration” of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Tuberville, who denied holding up hundreds of promotions is having a damaging effect on the military and morale, also has said he is blocking these promotions because the Biden administration is “woke.”
Recently, Tuberville told Bloomberg News each military officer’s promotion takes two hours of voting by the Senate, which could take them up individually despite his block. Tuberville falsely said voting on all the promotions would take “no time at all” to complete.
Watch Majority Leader Schumer below or at this link.
Majority Leader Schumer (D) says the Senate will vote on stalled military promotions individually:
“The Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them … and the abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.” pic.twitter.com/zBxzcJrGkZ
— The Recount (@therecount) September 20, 2023
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