Senate confirms former Log Cabin chief to State Dept. post

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Senate confirmed R. Clarke Cooper to a senior State Department position. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

With little opposition, the U.S. Senate confirmed on May 30 a former head of Log Cabin Republicans instrumental in finding Republican votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to a high-ranking State Department position.

R. Clarke Cooper, who’s gay, was confirmed as assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs by a vote of 90-8 nearly a full year after President Trump nominated him in June 2018.

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Biden receives early LGBT support amid lingering questions, criticism

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Former Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement that he is running for president has sparked a mixed reaction among activists and LGBT Democrats.

“From his support for inclusive hate crimes protections in the U.S. Senate to his leadership on marriage equality as vice president, Joe Biden has been a vocal champion of equality,” Sarah McBride, a transgender woman from Delaware who is a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Blade on May 30.

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Democratic presidential candidates decline to speak at anti-LGBT group’s summit

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Six Democratic presidential candidates have declined an invitation to speak at an anti-LGBT group’s summit in Iowa.

NBC News on April 29 reported U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all declined invitations to speak at the Family Leader’s summit that is scheduled to take place on July 12.

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Iowa pollster: Pete Buttigieg strikes chord, could be ‘dark horse’

By : Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade, Courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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In the aftermath of an Iowa poll this week placing Pete Buttigieg in a surprising third place among other candidates, the political expert behind the data said the gay 2020 hopeful could achieve a “dark horse” victory next year.

Spencer Kimball, a professor in political and sports communication at Emerson College, said the poll marks a distinct change for Buttigieg, who was polling at zero in Iowa just two months ago.

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Social media provides fuel for Jussie Smollett story

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CHICAGO (AP) | The story Jussie Smollett told police had it all: racism, homophobia, politics, celebrity — all tied up with a hangman’s noose. There was no question the news coverage was going to be massive.

In many ways, that coverage is an object lesson in the foibles of modern reporting. The story showed where news outlets teeter on the line between driving social media and being driven by it, between healthy skepticism and cautious credulity.

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Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

By : wire report
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CHICAGO (AP) | Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie Smollett has “shifted” due to information received from two brothers questioned in the case, and attorneys for the “Empire” actor blasted reports alleging he played a role in his own attack.

Chicago police had arrested, then released the two Nigerian brothers without charges late Feb. 15 and said they were no longer suspects in the attack.

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ICE confirms 45 transgender women being held at Texas detention center

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to the Washington Blade that it is currently housing 45 transgender women at a privately-run detention center in Texas.

Danielle Bennett on Feb. 5 said the trans women are being held at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas. The GEO Group, a Florida-based company, operates the facility that is roughly 60 miles southwest of San Antonio.

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Harris takes ‘full responsibility’ for briefs against surgery for trans inmates

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In her first news conference after announcing her 2020 presidential run, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she takes “full responsibility” for legal briefs as California attorney general seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates and called for a “better understanding” of needs — medical or otherwise— for transgender people.

Harris made the comments during a news conference Jan. 21 at Howard University in D.C. in response to a question from the Washington Blade, asking her about representing the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation in seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery prescribed to two transgender inmates in the California state prison system.

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Warren’s newfound support for surgery for trans inmates could impact 2020 race

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Transgender advocates cheered Elizabeth Warren for coming out in favor of transgender inmates having access to gender reassignment surgery, which could potentially raise it as an issue for 2020 presidential candidates.

Warren’s new view reverses a position she stated in 2012 in opposition to access to the transition-related care for inmates. Even thought it took seven years for Warren to change her position and she only did so after she declared her intention to run for president, transgender rights supporters welcomed her evolution and newfound position.

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Three US senators seek documents in death of Roxsana Hernández

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Three U.S. senators on Dec. 5 called upon the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to release documents related to the case of a transgender Honduran woman with HIV who died in their custody.

The letter that U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent to Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan notes Roxsana Hernández, 33, died in ICE custody on Nov. 25. The letter also highlights Hernández, who was part of a 300-person caravan that traveled to the U.S. border earlier this year, was taken into custody by Border Patrol on May 9 when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry south of San Diego.

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Harris, Carper introduce bill to include LGBT questions on U.S. Census

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced on Tuesday they had introduced in the U.S. Senate the Census Equality Act, which would begin the process of adding questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in both the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey.

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Trump’s gay nominee Ric Grenell confirmed as ambassador to Germany

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell on Thursday as U.S. ambassador to Germany, making him the most high-profile openly gay appointee in the Trump administration.

Grenell — who has faced Democratic opposition for months over mean tweets he made about the appearance of women and other comments downplaying the significance of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election — was confirmed by a largely party line vote of 56-42.

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