Advocates express concern over new State Dept. diplomatic visa policy

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A new State Department policy that requires partners of foreign mission personnel and employees of international organizations to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa has sparked concern among LGBTI rights advocates.

The Washington Blade last week obtained a letter from the State Department that states, “consistent with internal Department of State policy changes, partners accompanying officers and employees of international organizations or seeking to join the same must be married in order to be eligible for a derivative G-4 nonimmigrant visa or to seek a change into such status beginning October 1, 2018.” The letter also says the State Department as of Oct. 1 “will only accept the accreditation of spouses of newly arrived officers and employees of international organizations, both same-sex and opposite-sex, as members of the family of the respective international organization.”

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LGBT advocates outraged over Trump’s deference to Putin

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: U.S. President Donald Trump faced criticism after his Helsinki news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Screen capture via YouTube)

The news conference that followed President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki led to jaw-dropping reactions across the globe, including from LGBT advocates and observers who say it had a negative impact on LGBT rights despite Trump’s backpedaling days later.

Trump on Monday appeared alongside Putin at a news conference and sided with the Russian leader over the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies and the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, which led to U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians who implemented the plan.

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Gillibrand to propose amendment against Trump’s trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) plans an amendment against Trump’s transgender military ban. Image courtesy of YouTube.

Coming off her aggressive questioning of top military leaders in committee on the transgender military ban, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) now plans to seek to amend major defense legislation against the policy.

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White House won’t comment on HHS proposal to nix rule for trans health

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The White House has declined to comment on recent indications the Trump administration is set to undo an Obama-era rule barring medical providers from refusing service to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.

The Washington Blade sought to ask White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the proposed reversal Monday during the daily briefing, but the spokesperson didn’t call on the Blade for a question, nor did any other reporter ask about the issue following a report on the development in the New York Times.

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Speaker Ryan becomes latest Republican to announce retirement

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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With Republicans fretting about losing control of Congress in the mid-term elections, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has announced he won’t seek re-election, leaving an uneven record on LGBTQ rights and the door open for another Republican to take his place as leader of his caucus.

The 10-term member of Congress, who has served as speaker since 2015, announced during a news conference Wednesday he wouldn’t seek re-election to represent Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district in order to spend more time with his family, confirming news reports about his intended plan earlier in the day.

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Trump issues (moot) memo affirming ban on transgender military service

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Consistent with expectations for timing for the new policy, ban on transgender military service issued a memo late Friday on transgender military service that — while moot thanks to court orders against banning transgender troops — nonetheless reaffirms policy against their service.

In the memo dated March 23, Trump defers on the transgender military issue to Defense Secretary James Mattis and based on his recommendation asserts transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to serve “except under certain limited circumstances.”

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Anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ bill is back — and Trump has promised to sign

By : CHRIS JOHNSON OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has reintroduced legislation in the U.S. Senate seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” — and President Trump made signing the legislation a campaign promise during the 2016 election.

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Dems seen as caving after agreeing to end gov’t shutdown

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was seen to cave after Senate Democrats agreed to end the U.S.
government shutdown. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

Democrats are widely viewed as having caved on their pledge to fight for young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, after agreeing to end a U.S. government shutdown shortly after supporting it.

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LGBT groups place blame on Trump for government shutdown

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In the wake of Congress failing to approve funding to avert a U.S. government shutdown, LGBT groups are placing the blame squarely on President Trump for refusing to agree to deal allowing young, undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers to stay in the United States.

The U.S. government shutdown took place at midnight after the U.S. Senate failed reached the 60-vote threshold needed to advance debate on a continuing resolution to fund the government. The shutdown comes exactly on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

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Trump claims win with tax reform, but LGBT advocates say they lose

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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President Trump is touting the Republican tax reform plan as his first legislative win as Congress sends the legislation to his desk, but LGBT rights supporters are warning about expected negative impacts of the measure — especially the end to the individual mandate in Obamacare.

In a statement Wednesday after final congressional approval of the bill, Trump said he made good on his promise for “a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas.”

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Anti-LGBT Trump nominee to Export-Import Bank rejected by Senate

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Anti-LGBT Scott Garrett was rejected as president of the Export-Import Bank. Photo by Gage Skidmore via wikimedia

Amid objections from LGBT groups, the U.S. Senate rejected on Tuesday a Trump nominee to the U.S. Export-Import Bank with a history of anti-LGBT views.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs rejected the nomination of Scott Garrett on a bipartisan vote of 10-13. In June, Trump nominated Garrett as president of the Export-Import Bank, which provides finance assistance to help foreign entities buy U.S. exports.

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Grassley: Trump must rethink nominee who called trans kids ‘Satan’s plan’

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged President Trump to rethink a judicial nominee who called transgender kids “Satan’s plan.” (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a rare public rebuke of President Trump, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged the administration to reconsider the judicial nomination of Jeff Mateer, who was recently exposed on tape calling transgender kids “Satan’s plan.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said in exclusive comments to CNN he advised the White House to “reconsider” the nomination of Jeff Mateer, whom Trump nominated for a federal judgeship in Texas. Additionally, Grassley said the administration “should not proceed” with the nomination of Brett Talley, who Trump picked to become a federal judge in Alabama.

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