Senate advances Kavanaugh nomination — but there’s a floor vote deal

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In the aftermath of powerful testimony from Christine Blasey Ford asserting she’s “100 percent” Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 28 voted to advance his nomination — although a deal is in the works for an investigation before his final confirmation vote.

The Senate panel approved the nomination on 11-10 party lines. Republican members insisted on moving forward with the nomination despite objections from Democratic members, many of whom called for delay until the FBI could conduct an additional investigation.

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Puerto Rico: A year after Hurricane Maria

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SAN JUAN — Sept. 20 marked a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Many of the U.S. commonwealth’s more than 3 million residents are trying to return to some sense of normalcy, but signs of Maria’s destruction remain visible throughout Puerto Rico. Anger over the pace of recovery and President Trump’s response to Maria remain widespread across the island.

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Woodward book: Trump surprised top staff with trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The new book by journalist Bob Woodward depicting chaos in the White House asserts President Trump announced his transgender military ban before hearing from officials during a planned meeting as he privately made anti-trans remarks describing gender reassignment surgery as “getting clipped,” according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

When Trump announced in a tweet in July 2017 he’d ban transgender people from the U.S. military “in any capacity,” he said he’d consulted military experts on the issue. However, the book — “Fear: Trump in the White House” — reportedly says Trump made the announcement before a planned meeting with top officials on options for transgender service.

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John McCain leaves complicated legacy on LGBT rights

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at 81, leaves a legacy of patriotism, service to country — and being a thorn in the side of President Trump — but his legacy on LGBT issues is more complicated.

Throughout his decades in Congress, the Arizona Republican took widely different stances on LGBT issues — at times mocking them as unimportant, at other times embracing equal rights for the LGBT community. McCain would often oppose LGBT rights to align with his party and for the sake of political expediency, although the general direction of the positions he took as time went on demonstrated increasing acceptance of LGBT people.

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Trump names former Log Cabin chief to senior State Dept. post

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: President Trump has nominated R. Clarke Cooper to senior State Department position. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key.

President Trump has nominated a former head of Log Cabin Republicans to a senior position at the State Department for political and military affairs.

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White House won’t say if Kennedy successor will uphold LGBTQ rights

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The White House affirmed on Thursday President Trump has started the process for nominating a successor to U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, but won’t say if that choice will uphold his legacy on LGBTQ rights.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters dodged a question Thursday on whether LGBTQ rights would inform Trump’s pick from a reporter during a press gaggle on Air Force One en route to Wisconsin for a Trump rally.

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Justice Kennedy announces plans to step down from Supreme Court

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy — the author of major U.S. Supreme Court rulings in favor of gay rights — has announced plans to step down from the bench.

Major media outlets reported Kennedy — appointed by President Reagan in 1988 — announced plans to step down Wednesday afternoon as the court’s 2017-2018 term came to a close. The Washington Blade confirmed Kennedy’s plans for departure with the Supreme Court.

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Sen. Hatch recognizes Pride, LGBT youth suicide on Senate floor

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recognized Pride month and LGBT youth suicide on the Senate floor. Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Creative Commons.

Sen. Orrin Hatch took an unusual step for a Republican from Utah on Wednesday and recognized June as Pride month, invoking the occasion to draw attention to LGBT youth suicide.

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Awkward tension as Pentagon hosts Pride while pushing to ban trans members

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Pride is supposed to be a time for celebration, but there was palpable tension Monday at the annual Defense Department Pride event as LGBTQ civilians and members of the armed forces recognized the occasion.

The event — hosted by DOD Pride, an affinity group for LGBTQ Pentagon employees — has been held each year within the Defense Department since 2011 when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was certified. But the elephant in the room was President Trump’s transgender military ban. It was the first such celebration since Trump announced in July 2017 on Twitter he’d ban transgender service members “in any capacity.”

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Judge: Va. school board can appeal Gavin Grimm ruling

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A federal judge on Tuesday said a Virginia school board can ask a federal appeals court to consider whether its bathroom policy is discriminatory.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., on May 22 dismissed the Gloucester County School Board’s motion to dismiss Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit against the policy. The Associated Press reported Wright — who in 2014 ruled Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional — on Tuesday granted the school board’s request to petition the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals to resolve the case.

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Supreme Court sidesteps major ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped making a major decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case pending before the court, issuing a narrow decision based on the facts of the lawsuit in favor of a Colorado baker sued for refusing a wedding cake to same-sex couple.

In the 7-2 decision written by U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court vacates the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals against baker Jack Phillips on the basis the state commission handling his case displayed a religious bias against him.

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No proclamation (again) from Trump for Pride month

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The first day of June has arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

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