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Michelle Obama Celebrated Marriage Equality by Sneaking Out of the White House



Former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday to promote her new book, “Becoming,” and walked away with all of our hearts…and we walked away with some of her secrets.

The usually guarded matriarch discussed the day same-sex marriage became legal in the United States (she walked into the crowd to celebrate), her husband’s presidential inaugurations, her daughter’s prom, and more previously undisclosed memories from the White House.

“We’re in the White House, and when you’re in the residence, there’s so much bulletproof glass that sometimes you don’t hear what’s going on outside,” she explained about the night marriage equality became legal federally. “We knew that there was celebration happening, but we didn’t realize that people – thousands of people – were gathering in front of the White House at that time to celebrate.”

She added, “Everybody was celebrating and people were crying, and I thought, ‘I want to be in that. I was sitting and watching it on TV and realizing, ‘I’m living this.’ I said, ‘I have to break out of this. I want to go outside, and I want to be a part of that celebration.'”

And break out she did.

“So now there are many people behind us,” she said of the White House staff that followed them as they tried to exit the residence. “They don’t know what to do. They were like, ‘Ma’am, where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going out. We’re going out.'”

When prompted to discuss Malia’s prom experience, Obama shared: “Their whole lives were spent trying to have a normal life. Go to soccer matches and birthday parties and sleepovers and have kids come over with a security detail.”

Their lives were so heavily guarded that the girls had never driven in “another person’s car for security reasons.”

Obama recalled, “So everything in their lives is now a discussion. We have to pull in security. We have to talk to the chief of staff, talk to the communications director,” she said. “My thing was she’s gotta ride in the car with her prom date.”

The prom date arrived to pick Malia up for their date and it was anything but “normal.”

“We greet the young man in a nice tux and God knows what happened to him getting in, because I tried to make security know he’s coming. Don’t hassle him,” she said. “I told Malia, ‘Make sure his car is clean’ if you know what I mean, ’cause dogs sniff the car. I said, ‘I don’t want him to be embarrassed.'”

She continued, “So he comes in, and you can tell he’s a little nervous, and we shake his hand, take a picture, and they get in the car and they go off, and then three cars follow,. It’s like them and then three cars with three men with guns. And Barack was like, ‘This makes running for a second term all worthwhile. My daughter is being followed by men with guns to prom.'”

Oh, the stories they all have to tell one day.


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Laurie Jinkins Becomes Washington State Speaker of the House – First Woman, First Lesbian



It was a historic day in Washington state as Democratic members of the Washington state House elected Rep. Laurie Jinkins as the new House Speaker, making her the first LGBTQ person and first woman to hold the position in Washington state.

Jinkins will become one of three openly LGBTQ people currently serving as the leader of a state legislative chamber, joining California President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek. Jinkins will be the sixth openly LGBTQ state House speaker in U.S. history when she takes on the position in January of next year.

“To have an openly LGBTQ woman in one of the most powerful roles in government can be transformative for the state of Washington,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute. “Speaker Jinkins will bring her unique perspective to the job: determining priorities, shaping legislation, and influencing how her caucus votes on equality and other key issues. All three states on the Pacific coast now have LGBTQ people leading one chamber of their state legislature, continuing the trend of more LGBTQ people securing key legislative leadership positions.”

“I first ran for public office because I wanted to make sure all families have the same opportunities for success. Washington continues to rank among the top states to live, work, and do business in large part due to the forward-thinking policies adopted by the Legislature over the last 20 years,” Jinkins said in a statement. “We made sure all kids have access to health care regardless of family income. We have some of the best colleges and universities in the nation. And we support families by embracing marriage equality, paid family leave, equal pay, and many other polices. I want every family to have the same opportunities my family has had, and that vision will be the guiding force during my service as speaker.”

Jinkins added, “I thank my colleagues for their confidence. This will be the most challenging job I’ll ever have but I am humbled and buoyed by the support of members of this caucus.  For 20 years, we’ve worked together to improve quality of life on behalf of the people of Washington and House Democrats are committed to continuing that work for communities and families all across the state.”

Jinkins has championed several legislative proposals that were signed into law in recent years, including bills to reduce medical debt bankruptcies, expand access to life-saving drugs to chronically ill patients, and a first-in-the-nation Long-Term Care Trust Act.  Jinkins has devoted much of her legislative career to improving Washington’s behavioral health system.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Rep. Jinkins as our new speaker-designate,” said seatmate Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “Laurie has been a fantastic mentor to me throughout my time in the Legislature. She has spent much of her professional and legislative career in public health, dedicated to improving the lives of others. She’s deeply committed to making her community a better place to live and work. Laurie will bring that same passion to her role as speaker as she leads our caucus, the House, and the Washington state.”

Jinkins began her career protecting Washington’s children from abuse and neglect and has spent the last 20 years advancing public health. Before her election, Jinkins’ community involvement focused on higher education, improving city government, advancing Washington’s anti-discrimination laws and serving Tacoma’s non-profit sector.

Jinkins earned her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law (then the University of Puget Sound School Of Law). Click here for her full bio.

Jinkins, who began her first term as a state representative in 2011, is currently the chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee, and sits on the House Appropriations and Health Care & Wellness Committees.

She joins five other openly LGBTQ people who have served as speakers of their state House: John Perez in California (2010 – 2014), Gordon Fox in Rhode Island (2010 – 2014), Mark Ferrandino in Colorado (2012 – 2014), Kotek in Oregon (2013 – present) and Atkins in California (2014 – 2016).

California President Pro Tem Atkins remains the only openly LGBTQ person to lead a state Senate. There are at least 22 openly LGBTQ people currently serving in leadership roles in state legislatures – from speakers to majority and minority leaders to caucus whips.

Jinkins will immediately receive the title of “speaker-designate” and assume several House leadership responsibilities associated with the role.

According to the Washington state constitution, acting Speaker John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) will continue serving as acting speaker until the start of the next legislative session, which convenes on January 13, 2020.

“It’s been a great honor and privilege serving as acting speaker during this transition,” said Lovick. “I look forward to continuing in this role and working collaboratively with speaker-designate Jinkins until January when her confirmation becomes official.”

Core responsibilities of the speaker include serving as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, chair of Executive Rules (House administrative committee), and chair of the House Rules committee. The speaker appoints other elected members to standing and statutory committees, signs all bills in open session, and oversees all employees of the House.

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SCOTUS: No Question About Citizenship on the 2020 US Census



Trump just lost – and he lost BIG. The Supreme Court of the United States has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. While there is potentially still time to resubmit for inclusion, experts predict it’s not enough.

The 5-4 decision included the four liberal justices, joined by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts.

If today had gone a different way, the administration would have been allowed to ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.
The question, many believe, would have caused undocumented immigrants to not respond to the constitutionally-required survey, thus undercounting possibly millions of people in the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, of the Southern District of New York, noted that if the question were to be included, “hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted.”
Last year Berman wrote that the Trump administration was “rigging the census,” in an effort “to sideline minority populations in 2020” that “will undermine democracy for decades to come.”
It came down to one basic concept not presented to SCOTUS.
“The sole stated reason — seems to have been contrived,” Roberts expressed. “We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process.”
“The Secretary’s failure to consider this evidence — that adding the question would harm the census count in the interest of obtaining less accurate citizenship data — provides a sufficient basis for setting the decision aside. But there is more. The reason that the Secretary provided for needing more accurate citizenship information in the first place — to help the DOJ enforce the Voting Rights Act — is unconvincing,” Breyer wrote.
It should be noted, however, that the case has been kicked back down to the lower court. Although it is possible, it is unlikely that today’s ruling will be superseded.
Read the opinion here.
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Kid Writes Lesbian Neighbors A Note: You’ve ‘Given Me the Courage to Come Out’



File this one under: why representation matters.

Sal Stow and her partner Meghan Stabler of Round Rock, Texas, had no idea that flying a Pride flag outside of their home would lead to a social media blitz, appearances on Good Morning America, entries in People Magazine, or anything short of just a normal day in June. However, what actually happened is one for the record books.

And it all began because of a Pride flag and a letter under a rock on the front step.

“Hello. You don’t know me,” the letter begins. “We’re moving away today, but I wanted to thank you. Seeing a Pride flag waving so proudly outside your house everyday has given me the courage to come out to my family and be more comfortable with who I am.”

“I just went out to collect 2 packages from the doorstep (at my partner Meghan’s house, that I call home) only to find this note under a rock on the mat,” Stow wrote on Facebook. “This is why visibility is SO important. You never know who needs the support and to know it’s ok. I hope this person is ok, their family is being supportive and they find a community to connect with that can help them through this brave process.”

Stow continued, “Williamson County is extremely conservative and in fact the County Commissioners voted 4-0 to not allow the pride flag to be flown on the Round Rock county court buildings. I am proud of who I am and the person I love. I will continue to be visible in whatever way I can #lgbtq+ #pridevisibility #translivesmatter #trans #hrc #stonewall50 #equality”

The drawing featured a person holding transgender and pansexual pride flags.

Visibility has never been as important as it is today. While we have made strides for equality over the past decades, we know we have a long way to go,” Stabler told New Civil Rights Movement. “In many states, in many counties, in many towns, being out and proud is still a challenge. Fear and exclusion or worse – hate and anger – are still an everyday lived experience for some members of the LGBTQ community.”

Stabler issued a call to continue combating anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

“If simply flying a pride flag 365 days of the year brings hope to someone, then I encourage everyone, including allies, to do so,” she said.

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