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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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Federal Judge Reinstates DACA and Orders Swift Approval of New Applicants



A New York federal judge reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Friday and ordered Homeland Security to quickly process new applicants.

President Donald J. Trump has tried repeatedly to end the Obama-era program during his four years in office. The ruling Friday now ensures that thousands of immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. as young children will have the ability to continue to work and study in the country without the threat of deportation.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued a six-page ruling that included ordering Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday prominently on its website to accept first-time applications.

Existing applicants will need to reapply every year, but in doing so, will remain in the program.

The National Immigration Law Center called the ruling a “major victory.”

“This is a major victory for immigrant youth, led by immigrant youth. We would not be celebrating this day were it not for our courageous plaintiffs that fought to affirm that their #HomeIsHere,” the National Immigration Law Center tweeted after the ruling. “This is a day to celebrate, and we look forward to working with the incoming Biden administration to create a permanent solution for immigrant youth and communities.”

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Christianity Today Spikes in Readership After Trump Removal Op-Ed



Leading evangelical publication Christianity Today was founded by the late evangelist Billy Graham in 1956 and now, in a strange twist of fate, the readers who helped propel the publication into the spotlight are joining in numbers favoring POTUS getting the boot out of public office. To be fair, there has been some blood spilled. The newly splintered sphere of vocal readers caused one-third of subscribers to cancel their membership to the publication – but get this: according to Christianity Today Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli, the publication has gained three times as many subscribers in the process.

“Although we’ve lost hundreds of subscribers, we’ve gained three times as many subscribers,” Galli told Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC on Sunday. Adding later, “Something flipped” during the impeachment hearings.”

Galli penned the op-ed that started the shakedown in the first place, wherein he criticized Trump’s “grossly immoral character” throughout the Mueller investigation and impeachment hearings.

“We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath,” he wrote in the op-ed. “The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see.”

The letter also stated: “The typical CT [Christianity Times] approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage. That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.”

Watch the MSNBC interview here and read the dissenting tweets below.

The op-ed concluded:

To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?

We have reserved judgment on Mr. Trump for years now. Some have criticized us for our reserve. But when it comes to condemning the behavior of another, patient charity must come first. So we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump. To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.

Even with the tremendous spike in subscribers, Galli’s days with Christianity Today are numbered. The editor told CNN last week he plans on leaving the publication.

Image via MSNBC screengrab.

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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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