LGBT Americans Progress

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LGBT Rainbow spectrum

Since taking office President Obama has taken these steps:
2009

Jun 17 Ordered Federal Government extend key benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees, Jun 29 Hosted the first ever White House LGBT Pride reception, Aug 12 Awarded the hight civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom to Billie Jean King and Harvey Milk, Oct 21 Created the National Resource Center for LGBT Elders, Oct 28 Signed the Matthew Shepard Act Anti-discrimination legislation

2010

Jan 1 Banned discrimination in Federal workplaces based on gender identity, Jan 4 Lifted the ban that prohibited people with HIV/AIDS from enter the US, Apr 15 Ensured hospital visitation and medical decision making right or gay and lesbian parents, Jun 9 Allowed transgender Americans to receive gender passports without surgery, Jun 17 Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination memorandum expanding federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees, Jun 22 Clarified the Family Leave Act to ensure family leave for LGBT employees, Dec 21 Lead a United Nations measure to restore “sexual orientation” to the definition of human rights, Dec 22 Signed the real of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

2011

Feb 23 Declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and announced the Administration will no longer defend it in court, Mar 10 Hosted first ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in America’s schools, May 27 Issued guidance to foster safer working environments fro transgender Federal employees, Jul 19 Endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, a legislative effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, Sep 20 Implemented the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, Sep 15 Ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no match” letters, Aug 19 Supported lesbian widow Edith Windsor in her suite against DOMA, Aug 18 Clarified the mean of “family” to include LGBT relationships, helping to protect bi-national families threatened by deportation, Sep 30 Permitted military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages where legal, Oct 13 Alison Nathan becomes second openly gay appointee to be confirmed to the federal bench in Southern District of New York, Dec 6 Created U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad, Dec 11 Presidential Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons

2012

Jan 28 Announced HUD’s new rule to protect against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Feb 2 Announced White House LGBT Conference to address issues affecting LGBT Americans, Feb 7 Promoted equal access to quality health care by enabling series for health plans with same-sex partner benefits on Healthcare.gov, Feb 13 Proposed a 2013 Federal budget for an economy including providing security for the LGBT community, Mar Ensured transgender veterans receive respectful care according to their true gender through the Veterans Health Administration, Mar 15 Michael Fitzgerald, fourth openly gay nominee under President Obama, is confirmed to the federal bench in California, Mar 16 Came out against North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which prohibits same-sex marriage in the state, May Announced support for same-sex marriage, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the US Senate, as a Senator for Wisconsin. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) became the first openly bisexual person elected to the US Congress. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote.May 9 Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly announced support for same-sex marriage Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the US Senate, as a Senator for Wisconsin, Jun 18 The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally assisted housing programs; the new regulations ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Sept 4 The Democratic Party becomes the first major U.S. political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.

2013

Feb 22  President Obama administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA. Jun 26 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US will give visa applications of gay and lesbian spouses in the same manner as heterosexual couples.  Jun 28 US Office of Personnel Management extends federal rights and benefits to married gay and lesbian federal employees and their families. Jun 28 California same-sex marriage is legal again. Jul 1 Minnesota and Delaware legalizes same-sex  marriage. Jun12 The Social Security Administration announced that it would begin accepting benefit claims related to same-sex marriage.  Jun 26 Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage in United States v. Windsor U.S. district courts in UtahOklahomaKentuckyVirginiaTexasMichiganOhioIdahoOregonPennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and state courts in Arkansas andTexas, have found state constitutional amendments or statutes banning same-sex marriage to violate the Constitution of the United States. Aug 2 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Announcemens on Visa Changes for Same-Sex Couples. Aug 14 – DOD Announces Same-Sex Spouse Benefits. Aug 29 Treasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes. Aug 29 Social Security Announces the Processing of claims for same-sex couples. Sept 23 First WH Bi Conference. Sep 24 Pres Obama’s nominee Todd Hughes, become the nation’s first openly gay federal appeals judge. Oct 21 New Jersey legalizes same-sex marriage. Oct 31 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel  directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to meet with the adjutants general of nine [of the remaining] states [not in compliance] to resolve the issue of those states denying ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities.  Oct 13 Hawaii legalizes same-sex marriage. Nov 13 Hawaii governor signs same-sex marriage into law. Nov 20 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs SB10, authorizing same-sex marriage into law. The U.S. Senate confirmed Nitza Quiñones Alejandro to a federal judgeship, making her the first openly gay Latina to hold such a post,  Todd Hughes became the first openly gay U.S. circuit judge

2014

Jan 10 Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes the marriages of more than 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah that took place before the Supreme Court put those unions on hold. Feb USAID appointed Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson to ensure that the promotion and protection of LGBT rights is fully integrated into all aspects of USAID’s vital work overseas.  , Feb 10 Attorney General Eric Holder announced changes within the Justice Department to benefit same-sex married couplessuch as the option to not testify against their partners, ablilty to file for bankruptcy jointly,  spousal visits and contacts for Federal prison inmates, benefits granted to the survivors of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty.  Mar 14 President Obama’s Judge Staci Michelle Yandle, an openly gay African-American woman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Jun 19 President Obama’s nominee Judith Ellen Levy was confirmed by the Senate as the first openly lesbian federal judge in Michigan,  Jun 19 President Obama’s nominee Darrin P. Gayles becomes the first black, openly gay male judge was appointed to District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Jun 20 President Obama announces a rule that makes legally married same-sex couples eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act in all 50 states. Jun 24 White House Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights Forum.  Jul 21 – President Obama signs an executive order Monday outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and federal employees. Oct 6 Supreme Court declines to intervene in gay marriage cases. Oct 25 Attorney General Holder Announces Federal Government to Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples in Six Additional States

2015

Feb 18 Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual  governor in the U.S. Feb 23  Secretary of State John Kerry announces Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons. Mar 3 Dept of Justice files briefs on health care guidelines, known as “freeze frame” policies, allowing inmates to continue any treatment they were receiving before their arrest but prohibit them from expanding or starting new treatments. Apr 8 A gender-neutral restroom is added to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. Jun 9 Department of Defense Extends Non-Discrimination Protections for LGB Troops. Jun 23 The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the modern gay-rights movement, is deemed an New York state landmark, Jun 26 US Supreme Court rules that marriage equality must be in all 50 states, Jul 9 Attorney General Lynch Announces Federal Marriage Benefits Available to Same-Sex Couples Nationwide, Jul 14 Defense Secretary Carter delivered a statement welcoming transgender persons to serve openly, Aug 18 White House hires openly trans staffer, Dec 15 Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

2016

Apr 12 President Obama’s administration and US Depart of Education issued guidance for school districts to treat transgender students with dignity in public and federally funded schools, Jun 24 President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument, 6/30  US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Lifts Ban on Transgender Service Members 

LGBT Rainbow spectrum

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“My general view is that transgender persons, just like gays and lesbians, are deserving of equal treatment under the law. And that’s a basic principle,” the president said. “My sense is that the Supreme Court is about to make a shift, one that I welcome, which is to recognize that — having hit a critical mass of states that have recognized same-sex marriage — it doesn’t make sense for us to now have this patchwork system and that it’s time to recognize that, under the equal protection clause of the United States, same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else.”

2/17/15 President Obama interview with BuzzFeed

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US LGBT Rights Timeline 1903-2016  (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
6/9/16 FACT SHEET: Obama Administration’s Record and the LGBT Community

 White House – LGBT

LGBT Democrats Facebook

Forward For Equality_sml

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119 thoughts on “LGBT Americans Progress

  1. Wednesday, July 27, 2012

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:30 AM
    Vice President Biden’s “Strengthening the Middle Class Tour”
    Grand River Center
    Dubuque, IA
    Open Press

    12:00 PM
    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    12:30 PM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press
    Press Briefing Room

    12:40 PM
    President Obama meets for lunch with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.
    Private Dining Room
    Closed Press

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    President Obama attends a campaign event
    Jefferson Hotel, Washington DC
    Closed Press

    Vice President Biden’s “Strengthening the Middle Class Tour”
    Clinton, IA

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    President Obama delivers remarks at a picnic for Members of Congress.
    South Lawn
    Pooled Press

    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      July 27, 2012

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      12:30 PM ET
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

      2:30 PM ET
      Advanced Vehicles, Driving Growth
      The White House

      7:00 PM ET
      President Obama delivers remarks at a picnic for Members of Congress.

      —-

      CNN http://live.cnn.com

      10:00 AM ET
      Baby product safety briefing
      The Consumer Product Safety Commission holds a briefing on tough new safety requirements for infant and toddler products, including cribs and play yards.

      10:00 AM ET
      Future of video hearing
      Officials from Roku, DISH Network, Netflix and the MPAA testify before a House commerce subcommittee on how advances in various platforms are changing how consumers access video content.

      11:30 AM ET
      Vice President Biden’s “Strengthening the Middle Class Tour”
      Grand River Center
      Dubuque, IA

      12:30 PM ET
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

      12:45 PM ET
      Pentagon briefing on Navy operations
      Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert holds a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on current U.S. Navy operations.

      1:00 PM ET
      House Democrats talk Holder contempt vote
      House Democratic lawmakers and others speak with reporters on tomorrow’s planned contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder.

      2:00 PM ET
      Weather satellite hearing
      Officials from NASA and NOAA address a House space subcommittee on government oversight of the nation’s weather satellite programs.

      3:00 PM ET
      Historic Marines honored with Congressional Gold Medal
      House and Senate leaders hold a Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony to recognize the nation’s first African-American Marines.

      7:00 PM ET
      President Obama delivers remarks at a picnic for Members of Congress.

      —-

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      9:00 AM ET
      Middle East Institute Holds Annual Conference on Turkey
      Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will speak at the Middle East Institute’s third annual conference on Turkey. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Middle-East-Institute-Holds-Annual-Conference-on-Turkey/10737431921/

      10:00 AM ET
      Baby product safety briefing
      The Consumer Product Safety Commission holds a briefing on tough new safety requirements for infant and toddler products, including cribs and play yards.

      10:00 AM ET
      Future of video hearing
      Officials from Roku, DISH Network, Netflix and the MPAA testify before a House commerce subcommittee on how advances in various platforms are changing how consumers access video content. http://www.c-span.org/Events/House-Hearing-Looks-at-Changing-Video-Technologies/10737431922/

      10:00 AM ET
      Hearing Looks at Ways The Tax Code Discourages Work
      The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources holds a hearing on “The Impact of Welfare and Tax Benefits on Work.”
      http://www.c-span.org/Events/Hearing-Looks-at-Ways-The-Tax-Code-Discourages-Work/10737431917/

      12:30 PM ET
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

      12:45 PM ET
      Pentagon briefing on Navy operations
      Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert holds a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on current U.S. Navy operations.

      1:00 PM ET
      House Democrats talk Holder contempt vote
      House Democratic lawmakers and others speak with reporters on tomorrow’s planned contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder.

      2:00 PM ET
      Weather satellite hearing
      Officials from NASA and NOAA address a House space subcommittee on government oversight of the nation’s weather satellite programs. http://www.c-span.org/Events/GAO-Releases-Report-on-Weather-Satellite-Programs/10737431918/

      2:00 PM ET
      Hearing Examines How Indian Tribes Are Recognized
      The dispute between two California counties and an Indian tribe is one of the issues under consideration in today’s House Natural Resources Subcmte. hearing on procedures for recognizing Indian tribes. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Hearing-Examines-How-Indian-Tribes-Are-Recognized/10737431919/

      3:00 PM ET
      Historic Marines honored with Congressional Gold Medal
      House and Senate leaders hold a Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony to recognize the nation’s first African-American Marines. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Nations-First-African-American-Marines-Receive-Congressional-Gold-Medal/10737431920/

      7:00 PM ET
      President Obama delivers remarks at a picnic for Members of Congress.

  2. lgbt_obama

    Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama

    “The work that we’ve done with respect to the LGBT community I think is just profoundly American and is at the heart of who we are.”’

    — President Obama

    Over the past three years, President Obama and LGBT Americans have worked together to make tremendous progress, including:

    * Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so that gay men and women can serve openly and honestly in the military

    * Passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act—adding the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender” to the federal register for the first time in American history

    * Declaring the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” an unconstitutional and unfair burden on America’s LGBT families

    * Implementing our first national HIV/AIDS strategy

    * Passing the Affordable Care Act, helping to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans and ensure that being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition

    * This election won’t just be a turning point for the LGBT community—it will determine our country’s values for generations to come. It’s up to all of us to make sure our friends, family, and community know how crucial it is that we defend the progress we’ve made. Together, we can make sure that America continues to be “a country that says, ‘out of many, we are one.’”

    LGBT Americans For Obama http://www.barackobama.com/lgbt?source=primary-nav

    • June 01, 2012

      Presidential Proclamation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012

      Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012

      By The President Of The United States Of America

      A Proclamation

      From generation to generation, ordinary Americans have led a proud and inexorable march toward freedom, fairness, and full equality under the law ‑‑ not just for some, but for all. Ours is a heritage forged by those who organized, agitated, and advocated for change; who wielded love stronger than hate and hope more powerful than insult or injury; who fought to build for themselves and their families a Nation where no one is a second-class citizen, no one is denied basic rights, and all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.

      The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story. From brave men and women who came out and spoke out, to union and faith leaders who rallied for equality, to activists and advocates who challenged unjust laws and marched on Washington, LGBT Americans and allies have achieved what once seemed inconceivable. This month, we reflect on their enduring legacy, celebrate the movement that has made progress possible, and recommit to securing the fullest blessings of freedom for all Americans.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/01/presidential-proclamation-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-pride-mon

    • Obama endorses same-sex marriage

      5/9/12 2:57 PM EDT POLITICO44

      President Obama endorses same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News:

      “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,”

      • Obama declaration “icing on the cake” of gay rights legacy – The Rachel Maddow Show (May 9th,

        Published on May 10, 2012 by Panzerfaust04

        Rachel Maddow emphasizes that policy is more important than personal views by politicians on gay rights and lists President Obama’s achievements in helping to secure rights for gay Americans. Past presidents have asserted their personal friendship or sympathy for gay people while hurting them with bad policy and associating themselves with anti-gay hatemongers. From the May 9th, 2012 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

    • White House LGBT Conference on Families

      Published on May 21, 2012 by whitehouse

      The White House Office of Public Engagement and the Family Equality Council will co-host an event focusing on the unique needs of LGBT families and children. Featured speakers include Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Bryan Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division Department of Justice Stuart Delery, and Senator Al Franken. May 21, 2012.

    • What progress looks like

      Jun 26, 2012 1:26 PM EDT By Steve Benen – maddowblog

      Taking a step back for a moment, it’s almost hard to believe how much progress there’s been in the U.S. military when it comes to gay rights.

      For example, right about now, the Defense Department is hosting a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month event in the Pentagon Auditorium. Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson will deliver a speech, which will be followed by a moderated panel discussion entitled, “The Value of Open Service and Diversity.”

      This would have been hard to fathom just a few years ago.

      There’s also this event on the calendar.

      The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the organization which fought against the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for years, is hosting an event celebrating the repeal of the law headlined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

      The event, “Celebrating Our Heroes,” will be held on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City on Sept. 18, days ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 20 repeal.

      “This historic and emotional event presents a unique – indeed, a once in a lifetime – opportunity to reinforce the meaningful part that Admiral Mullen played in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal process,” Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “No one played a more pivotal role than Admiral Mullen in securing the support of Congress and the military for repeal.”

      All of this comes just two weeks after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta celebrated Pride day by thanking LGBT servicemembers — and their families — in a video posted online.

      This, of course, is how it should be, and years from now, it’ll probably seem quite odd that I’m impressed by how much progress there’s been. But for now, it’s worth appreciating how far we’ve come (and how wrong Sen. John McCain and other Republicans were to fight this progress every step of the way).

      • June 15, 2012

        Secretary Panetta Video Message for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month from the Pentagon

        SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: As we recognize Pride month, I want to personally thank all of our gay and lesbian service members, LGBT civilians, and their families for their dedicated service to our country.

        Before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage. And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself.

        And now — after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are when in uniform.

        The pursuit of equality is fundamental to the American story. The successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” proved to the Nation that just like the country we defend, we share different backgrounds, different values, and different beliefs — but together, we are the greatest military force in the world.

        It also reminds us that integrity and respect remain the cornerstones of our military culture. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force implemented the repeal with a focus on respect and individual dignity.

        As Secretary of Defense, I am very proud of how we implemented repeal. Going forward, I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity, to ensure all who are qualified can serve in America’s military, and to give every man and woman in uniform the opportunity to rise to their highest potential.

        Diversity is one of our greatest strengths. During Pride month — and every month — let us celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equality for all.

    • June 02, 2010

      Presidential Memorandum-Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees

      MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

      SUBJECT: Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees

      For far too long, many of our Government’s hard-working, dedicated LGBT employees have been denied equal access to the basic rights and benefits their colleagues enjoy. This kind of systemic inequality undermines the health, well-being, and security not just of our Federal workforce, but also of their families and communities. That is why, last June, I directed the heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies), in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), to conduct a thorough review of the benefits they provide and to identify any that could be extended to LGBT employees and their partners and families. Although legislative action is necessary to provide full equality to LGBT Federal employees, the agencies have identified a number of benefits that can be extended under existing law. OPM, in consultation with the Department of Justice, has provided me with a report recommending that all of the identified benefits be extended.

      Accordingly, I hereby direct the following:

      Section 1. Immediate Actions To Extend Benefits. Agencies should immediately take the following actions, consistent with existing law, in order to extend benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees, and, where applicable, to the children of same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees:

      (a) The Director of OPM should take appropriate action to:

      (i) clarify that the children of employees’same-sex domestic partners fall within the definition of “child” for purposes of Federal child-care subsidies, and, where appropriate, for child-care services;

      (ii) clarify that, for purposes of employee assistance programs, same-sex domestic partners and their children qualify as “family members”;

      (iii) issue a proposed rule that would clarify that employees’ same-sex domestic partners qualify as “family members” for purposes of noncompetitive appointments made pursuant to Executive Order 12721 of July 30, 1990;

      (iv) issue a proposed rule that would add a Federal retiree’s same-sex domestic partner to the list of individuals presumed to have an insurable interest in the employee pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8339(k)(1), 8420;

      (v) clarify that under appropriate circumstances, employees’ same-sex domestic partners and their children qualify as dependents for purposes of evacuation payments made under 5 U.S.C. 5522-5523;

      (vi) amend its guidance on implementing President Clinton’s April 11, 1997, memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies on “Expanded Family and Medical Leave Policies” to specify that the 24 hours of unpaid leave made available to Federal employees in connection with (i) school and early childhood educational activities; (ii) routine family medical purposes; and (iii) elderly relatives’ health or care needs, may be used to meet the needs of an employee’s same-sex domestic partner or the same-sex domestic partner’s children; and

      (vii) clarify that employees’ same-sex domestic partners qualify as dependents for purposes of calculating the extra allowance payable under 5 U.S.C. 5942a to assist employees stationed on Johnston Island, subject to any limitations applicable to spouses.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-extension-benefits-same-sex-domestic-partners-federal-emplo

      • ‘Obamacare’ extends health care benefits to same-sex partners’ children

        By JASON MILLMAN | 7/20/12 2:31 PM EDT

        The Obama administration is giving a new health benefit to same-sex partners — and it’s built on one of the most popular provisions of “Obamacare.”

        On Friday, the administration published a proposed rule that would extend one of the health care law’s best-known provisions — allowing children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 — to same-sex partners of federal workers.

        The rule would extend eligibility in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program to the children of an enrollee’s same-sex partner. It also would extend coverage in the federal employees’ dental and vision insurance programs.

        The Obama administration decision stemmed from a June 17, 2009, administration memorandum asking the Office of Personnel Management to provide certain benefits to federal employees’ same-sex domestic partners.

        According to the OPM’s website, same-sex partners are not currently eligible for benefits under the FEHBP, but the OPM determined it was able to extend the Affordable Care Act’s under-26 provision to the kids of federal workers’ same-sex domestic partners by tweaking the regulatory definition of “stepchild.”

        Source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78776.html#ixzz21MGF9dJX

    • 10-Year-Old Gives Gay Marriage Speech Before NYC City Council

      7/26/12 By Mia Trovato | Trending Now – 11 hrs ago

      Two months ago, fifth-grader Kameron Slade wrote a speech for a school competition that his principal forbid him from delivering. The topic was gay marriage. His mother, April Grantham-Slade, told the New York Times that her son wanted to address a subject that hadn’t been talked about much. Local media outlets heard about Kameron’s predicament, and the 10-year-old was invited to deliver his words for the cameras of TV station NY1. The video of Kameron’s speech received more than 600,000 views on YouTube, and he was ultimately allowed to speak at a special school assembly.

      Yesterday City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn — who married her partner, Kim M. Catullo, in May — gave Kameron an even bigger platform when she asked him to deliver the speech in the council chambers. Kameron, who arrived with his parents and grandfather, looked stylish and self-assured in a gray suit. He said he felt “honored.” I’m thinking his what-I-did-with-my-summer-vacation essays will be pretty interesting to read.

      What did you think of Kameron Slade’s speech and the invitation from the City Council? Let us know on Facebook or by following us @YahooTrending.

      ——

      USA: Young School Kid, who was banned from giving a speech coming @Out4Marriage “like

      Published on Jun 15, 2012 by Out4Marriage

      A fifth-grade student in New York who wanted to deliver a speech for marriage equality had his opportunity censored, but later reinstated at a different session due to immediate backlash, US media organisations report.

      Kameron Slade, a student at a local school in Queens won a school-wide competition to deliver a speech, but upon discovering that his topic was marriage between same-sex couples, his principal threatened to remove him from the contest if he did not change the topic.

      For more ways to get involved in the campaign visit http://www.Out4Marriage.org
      Fan us on Facebook http://www.FB.com/Out4Marriage
      Follow us on twitter @Out4Marriage

    • Sally Pederson and Joy Corning on Judicial Politics

      October 12, 2012 billmoyers

      Summary:

      Thirty-eight states now elect their high court judges. Large sums of money — $200 million over the last decade, much of it secret and tied to partisan agendas — are pouring into these judicial campaigns. In Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, for example, justices are being targeted by radical groups that abhor judicial independence and want the courts to reflect their political bias.

      In Iowa, a state whose judicial system has been praised for its fairness and impartiality, the political and religious Right ousted three justices in 2010 over marriage equality, and is now trying to take down a fourth over the same issue. But this time a bipartisan coalition called Justice Not Politics, is fighting back. Its co-founders – Democrat Sally Pederson and Republican Joy Corning, both of whom served Iowa for eight years as lieutenant governor — join Bill to talk about what’s at stake when justices are at the mercy of partisan passions and money in politics.

      “What people would like to do is intimidate judges and make them understand that if they make a decision that’s counter to the interests of certain groups, that they’ll go after them,” Pederson tells Bill. “You know, we elect our legislators, we elect our president, governor. If we also have money and politics involved in our courts, then what is safe from just the opinions of the day?

      For the audio interview: http://billmoyers.com/segment/sally-pederson-and-joy-corning-on-judicial-politics/

    • US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad

      Samantha Power December 13, 2012 04:00 PM EST

      During Human Rights Week, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding human rights and human dignity at home and abroad, and we recognize the need to build a world in which everyone can pursue their dreams free from violence and discrimination.

      Last week at the Human Rights First summit, I described how advancing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world is central to, not separate from, our comprehensive human rights agenda. With LGBT people facing death, violence, persecution, and discrimination around the world, the stakes could not be higher. Seventy-eight countries have laws that criminalize consensual same-sex acts between adults, resulting in unchecked human rights abuses and exploitation by police, security officials and private citizens. In at least 5 countries, the death penalty can be applied for being gay. Even where being LGBT is not a crime, violence by state and non-state actors alike often goes unpunished and LGBT communities live in fear and isolation.

      As President Obama has said, “no one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love”. To ensure a comprehensive U.S. response to these threats, one year ago, President Obama issued the first ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of LGBT persons, requiring all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to “ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” and to report annually on their progress.

      We are continuing to lead a government-wide effort to oversee implementation of the Presidential Memorandum and ensure effective coordination across different agencies and offices. Highlights from progress made across the U.S. Government include:

      Strengthening U.S. Government capacity:

      * Departments and agencies are establishing new coordination mechanisms, strengthening training of key personnel, and raising internal awareness among staff and partners about LGBT issues. Secretary of State Clinton and USAID Administrator Shah have instructed U.S. embassies and USAID missions to meet regularly with the LGBT community in their host countries.

      * The Peace Corps is implementing LGBT training sessions for Volunteers and staff to raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by local LGBT populations as well as LGBT Peace Corps Volunteers in the field. In 2012, the Peace Corps also facilitated a regional workshop to help overseas posts foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBT Volunteers and staff.

      Leveraging U.S. Foreign Assistance to Protect LGBT People from Violence and Discrimination and Respond to Urgent Crises:

      * Building on Secretary Clinton’s historic speech the same day the Presidential Memorandum was released, State launched the Global Equality Fund which — in more than 20 countries worldwide — supports emerging civil society organizations in advancing equality and protection for LGBT persons through increasing access to justice, supporting law reform, protecting individuals from violence and bolstering local advocacy efforts.

      * State and USAID are also working to improve program coordination and exchange best practices with other donors. USAID hosted the first high-level meeting with other development agencies during the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee meeting in December 2012.

      * As stated in the PEPFAR Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation and guidance on HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM), the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator continues to work with partner countries to prioritize and scale-up services for MSM.

      Protecting LGBT Refugees and Asylum Seekers:

      * State has continued to implement its comprehensive LGBT refugee protection strategy in coordination with the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS). State is funding research on threats facing LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, supporting NGOs that work with LGBT survivors of violence, and strengthening the capacity of UNHCR and other non-government partners.

      * DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created an expanded and stand-alone lesson module, Guidance for Adjudicating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Refugee and Asylum Claims.

      * DHS’ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun deploying a new automated risk assessment instrument which directs officers to consider special vulnerabilities, including sexual orientation and gender identity, when making custody and classification decisions in the immigrant detention context.

      Advancing International Norms through Multilateral Engagement:

      * Throughout the United Nations system and in other multilateral forums, the United States has raised the profile of LGBT issues broadly, building on the first-ever UN resolution on the human rights of LGBT people at the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

      Advancing International Norms through Multilateral Engagement:

      * At the 2012 annual World Health Assembly (WHA), Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius led a historic panel discussion, co-sponsored by Brazil, Norway, South Africa and Thailand, entitled Breaking Down Barriers: Addressing Stigma and Discrimination in Health Care for LGBT Persons.

      Promoting Nondiscrimination and Combating Criminalization of LGBT Status:

      * The Department of Justice (DOJ) has partnered with the Department of State to help countries such as Honduras— where President Obama called on the government to address impunity for violence against LGBT persons—investigate and prosecute LGBT hate crimes.

      * State has expanded public diplomacy and outreach efforts across the globe: nearly 90 embassies participated in Pride Week events this summer, with posts in Kenya, Laos, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, among others, holding first-time LGBT events. State’s International Visitors Leadership Program is also playing a key role in ensuring LGBT leaders from other countries are able to learn from the experience of the LGBT movement in the United States, including learning about the U.S. experience in combating hate crimes.

      * The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has made clear that protecting the human rights of all people, including LGBT persons, is part of the overall human rights and governance criteria on which countries will be assessed for compact eligibility.

      * The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has asked each of the U.S. Executive Directors of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) including the World Bank to raise LGBT concerns to a policy level and increase awareness of the issue.

      * The Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) are considering LGBT concerns, for instance, in the context of the human rights eligibility requirement in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and through workplace anti-discrimination programs under the labor cooperation provisions of trade agreements. Commerce is also pursuing new lines of effort to engage the private sector in expanding non-discrimination and tolerance in other countries, recognizing that hostility to LGBT employees creates an adverse business climate that can hinder economic growth and competitiveness.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/12/13/us-leadership-advance-equality-lgbt-people-abroad

    • Obama administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA

      ‘Gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country’

      February 22, 2013 lgbtqnation Staff Reports

      The Obama administration on Friday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing why it considers the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.

      Filed in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of DOMA, the administration said “gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country,” and argued that laws targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation should face additional scrutiny by courts reviewing them.

      In the brief, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli asked the court to uphold a federal appeals court ruling that found DOMA to be unconstitutional:

      Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.

      This case deals with Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The two had lived as a couple for 44 years and married in Canada in 2007. Because her decades-long partner was a woman, the federal government did not recognize the same-sex marriage in legal terms, even though their home state of New York did.

      Section 3 of DOMA, which bars legally married same-sex couples from any federal benefits or programs based on marriage, has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration.

      The brief also mentions Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and similar measures in other states as evidence of continued discrimination against gays and lesbians.

      For more: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/02/obama-administration-urges-u-s-surpeme-court-to-strike-down-doma/

      • Supreme Court indicates it may strike down marriage law

        3/27/13 By Lawrence Hurley and David Ingram | Reuters – 1 hr 4 mins ago

        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several Supreme Court justices on Wednesday indicated interest in striking down a law that denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, presenting the possibility of a major change in a few months in gay marriage law.

        Justice Anthony Kennedy, a potential swing vote, warned of the “risks” that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) infringes upon the traditional role of the states in defining marriage.

        The 1996 U.S. law denies married same-sex couples access to federal benefits by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Kennedy referred to DOMA as “inconsistent” because it purports to give authority to the states to define marriage while limiting recognition of those determinations.

        The court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.
        On the liberal side of the bench, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan echoed some of Kennedy’s concerns about the states’ rights issue.

        “What gives the federal government the right to be concerned at all about the definition of marriage?” Sotomayor said.

        Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also raised concerns about the law, stressing how important federal recognition is to any person who is legally married.

        “It affects every area of life,” she said.

        Comparing marriage status with types of milk, Ginsburg said that a gay marriage endorsed by a state, but not recognized by the federal government, could be viewed as the equivalent of “skim milk.”

        The law is the focus of a second day of oral arguments before the high court as it tackles the gay marriage issue.

        It is possible the court would not reach the wider issue in the DOMA case because of preliminary legal matters relating to whether the court can hear it.

        For more: http://news.yahoo.com/supreme-court-next-gay-marriage-case-eyes-federal-050121766.html

      • GOP WRONG WAY

        Santorum: GOP Will Never Embrace Gay Marriage

        APRIL 9, 2013 TOM KLUDT 6:28 AM EDT, TPM

        Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) said Monday that, despite calls for the party to moderate on social issues and polls that show more and more Americans embracing marriage equality, the GOP will never endorse gay nuptials and warned that such a change in positions would be “suicidal” for Republicans.

        http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/santorum-gop-will-never-embrace-marriage-equality?ref=fpa

        • RNC members reaffirm party’s opposition to same-sex marriage

          4/12/13 04:12 PM ET By Alexandra Jaffe – TheHill

          The Republican National Committee has reaffirmed its opposition to gay marriage with a slate of resolutions passed unanimously at its spring meeting.

          Several resolutions re-establishing the party’s official position were adopted without discussion on Friday.

          One resolution states the party’s belief that “the institution of marriage is the solid foundation upon which our society is built and in which children thrive; it is based on the relationship that only a man and a woman can form.”

          The RNC also expresses its “support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America.”

          And one clause addresses the gay marriage cases currently under consideration by the Supreme Court, one concerning California’s ban on gay marriage and the other concerning the federal act that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

          “The Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act,” the clause reads.

          Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/293657-rnc-reaffirms-opposition-to-gay-marriage

    • SCOTUS allows Obama administration to participate in Prop. 8 oral arguments

      3/15/13 By DONOVAN SLACK – POLITICO44

      The Supreme Court on Friday granted permission to the Obama administration to participate in oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case.

      After President Obama had said he was cautious about intervening in the case seeking to strike down California’s gay-marriage ban, the administration ultimately filed a friend-of-the-court brief last month urging the court to strike down the ban and asking for 10 minutes to argue its case.

      Oral arguments in the case are scheduled March 26.

    • DOGMA

      It isn’t gay marriage that should trouble the Supreme Court, says Kevin Fisher-Paulson. It’s straight marriage.

      3/25/13 By Kevin Fisher-Paulson – KQED

      As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the legality of my marriage, I came to the conclusion that they should be ruling on their own matrimony. The real threat to this sacred institution is opposite sex marriage.

      As religious leaders will tell you, the purpose of a marriage is to stay together forever and to raise children.

      So let’s look at the forever part. Opposite sex couples divorce almost one out of every two marriages: 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce and a whopping 74 percent of third marriage end in divorce. In other words, the more that a straight person marries, the more likely he or she is to divorce.

      Gays haven’t had much time to get married, let alone divorced, but currently straights are divorcing at twice the rate of gays. It’s that whole people from Venus business really do understand each other better than the people from Mars.

      And we all know that the purpose of marriage is to have children, right? Again, opposite sex couples are ruining this holy precept. In 1976, census data indicated that 10% of opposite sex marriages were childless, and by 2003, that number had almost doubled to 19%. On the other hand, now that gays and lesbians have the ability to parent in many but not all states, the percentage of same sex couples with children has tripled from a mere 8% in 2000 to one out of four gay couples now with children. And perhaps even more important, not one of us gay couples is having a child by accident. Like Chief Justice Roberts, many of us adopt. Our family is truly a family of choice.

      Ironically, while opposite sex couples are casually doing driveby weddings in Vegas, we gays are treating marriage with tradition, and I daresay, reverence. Maybe it’s because we have to fight so hard for it.

      For the entire article and audio in statement: http://www.kqed.org/a/perspectives/R201303250735

    • U.S. to begin aiding foreign LGBT groups

      4/8/13 Carolyn Lochhead – sfgate

      The U.S. Agency for International Development, the federal government’s main foreign aid arm, announced at a Monday event in Washington a major new initiative to promote LGBT rights in developing countries.

      Eighty-five countries and territories currently criminalize same-sex relationships, according to the agency. Seven impose a death penalty. In South Africa, lesbians are often subjected to “corrective rape,” while throughout the Middle East and Africa, LGBT people are murdered and tortured because of their sexual orientation, said Claire Lucas, a senior adviser at the agency who conceived of the project.

      Uganda is still considering a bill to impose the death penalty on gays and lesbians.

      The $11 million, four-year initiative is a public-private partnership between USAID and San Francisco-based Olivia Cruises, UCLA’s Williams Institute, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

      The initiative will work with local LGBT groups to provide leadership training, research and other help, lending the imprimatur of the U.S. government to people who in many countries are outcast and vulnerable. The first work will take place in Equador, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. Officials said there has been a spike in violence against transgendered persons in Honduras since a 2009 coup in the country.

      For more: http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2013/04/08/u-s-to-begin-aiding-foreign-lgbt-groups/

    • Delaware To Become 11th State With Gay Marriage

      MAY 7, 2013, 5:35 PM 833 RANDALL CHASE,ASSOCIATED PRESS

      DOVER, Del. (AP) — A divided Delaware state Senate voted Tuesday to make their state the 11th in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after hearing hours of passionate testimony from supporters and opponents.

      The Senate’s 12-9 vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who supports the measure and planned to sign it later in the day. It would go into effect July 1.

      “I think this is the right thing for Delaware,” the governor said after the vote, while posing for pictures with supporters outside his legislative office. “It took an incredible team effort.”

      Gay rights activists and their supporters in the chamber erupted in cheers and applause following the Senate vote.

      Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democrat-controlled legislature last month, barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote.

      For more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/delaware-to-become-11th-state-with-gay-marriage.php

    • Minnesota Gov. Dayton signs gay marriage bill

      5/14/13 By PATRICK CONDON | Associated Press – 11 mins ago

      ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed a bill making gay marriage legal in Minnesota, the 12th state to take the step, as thousands of onlookers cheered.

      “What a day for Minnesota!” Dayton, a Democrat, declared moments before putting his signature on a bill. “And what a difference a year and an election can make in our state.”

      Rainbow and American flags flapped in a sweltering breeze during the ceremony, held on the Capitol’s south steps. The crowd, estimated by the State Patrol at 6,000, spilled down the steps and across the lawn toward downtown St. Paul.

      Dayton thanked legislators for “political courage” before signing the bill just a day after it passed the state Senate. It passed the House last week.

      The push for gay marriage was a rapid turnabout from just six months ago, when gay marriage supporters had to mobilize to turn back a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. Minnesota already had such a law, but an amendment would have been harder to undo.

      But voters rejected the amendment, and the forces that organized to defeat it soon turned their attention to legalizing gay marriage. Democrats’ takeover of the Legislature in the November election aided their cause.

      The two main sponsors of the bill, Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, were among the onlookers as Dayton signed, capping their long and often discouraging struggle to advance gay rights.

      For more: http://news.yahoo.com/minnesota-gov-dayton-signs-gay-marriage-bill-221037512.html

    • US moves to end ban on blood donations by gay men

      FDA moves to ease ban against blood donations by gay men, but restrictions would remain

      12/23/14 Associated Press By Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer

      WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials are recommending an end to the nation’s lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 31-year-old policy that many medical groups and gay activists say is no longer justified.

      The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it favors replacing the blanket ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had man-on-man sex in the previous 12 months. The new policy would put the U.S. in line with other countries including Australia, Japan and the U.K.

      For more: http://news.yahoo.com/us-moves-end-ban-blood-195144662.html;_ylt=AwrTWVUh2JlUdyIAXbzQtDMD

    • America’s Newest Diplomat Will Defend LGBT People Around the World

      LGBT people everywhere endure terrible discrimination. A new State Department envoy will try to fix that.

      Feb. 5, 2015 By Sam Brodey – motherjones

      LGBT communities around the world will soon have a powerful advocate in the State Department whose sole job is to watch out for their interests. Later this month, the State Department will name a special envoy to focus on the rights of LGBT people globally, a department official tells Mother Jones. In an emailed statement, the official said that Secretary of State John Kerry and his staff are in the final stages of selecting an openly gay Foreign Service officer as the United States’ first-ever diplomat to focus on LGBT issues. The position will not require Senate confirmation.

      Congress has attempted to push for a special envoy on LGBT issues in the past: In 2014, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act, which proposed establishing the position and taking steps to make the protection of LGBT individuals a foreign policy priority. Markey’s 2014 bill failed to become law. He reintroduced it last month, but the measure’s fate is uncertain—mostly because of opposition from congressional Republicans. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House subcommittee on human rights, said last week in a hearing that he does “not construe homosexual rights as human rights,” and suggested that the White House’s public support of LGBT rights negatively affected the United States’ ability to work with Nigeria to combat terrorism. Nigerian police arrested a dozen people for attending a same-sex wedding.

      For more: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/law-would-make-protecting-lgbt-rights-foreign-policy-priority

    • Release No: NR-272-15

      July 13, 2015 dod.gov

      Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on DOD Transgender Policy

      Over the last fourteen years of conflict, the Department of Defense has proven itself to be a learning organization. This is true in war, where we have adapted to counterinsurgency, unmanned systems, and new battlefield requirements such as MRAPs. It is also true with respect to institutional activities, where we have learned from how we repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” from our efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military, and from our work to open up ground combat positions to women. Throughout this time, transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.

      The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

      Today, I am issuing two directives to deal with this matter. First, DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.

      As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it.

    • In first, White House hires openly trans staffer

      August 18, 2015 at 9:00 am EDT | by Chris Johnson – washingtonblade

      The White House for the first time has hired an openly transgender person as a member of its staff, LGBT advocates and the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

      Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who formerly served in trans advocacy as policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative, has been appointed to a senior position in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She’s set to begin her new role as an outreach and recruitment director in the Presidential Personnel Office on Tuesday.

      Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, welcomed the addition of Freedman-Gurspan to the White House in a statement to the Washington Blade.

      “Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” Jarrett said. “Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration.”

      According to the White House website, the Office of Presidential Personnel oversees the selection process for presidential appointments and works to recruit qualified candidates for service in departments and agencies across the government.

      Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she’s “elated” about the addition of Freedman-Gurspan to the White House staff.

      “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant,” Keisling said. “And that the first White House transgender appointee is a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.”

      See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/08/18/in-first-white-house-hires-openly-trans-staffer/

  3. Stonewall Riots of 1969

    Police raids on gay bars and nightclubs were a regular event in cities across the United States. Commonly the police would record the identities of all those present, which would be subsequently published in the newspaper, then load up their police van with as many as it would hold. Kissing, holding hands, or even being in a gay bar at all was used as grounds for arrest on indecency charges at that time.

    The Stonewall raid on June 29, 1969 started out just like any other raid. Seven plainclothes policemen entered the bar along with one uniformed policeman, allegedly to investigate improprieties in the liquor license. They cleared the bar, whose clientele remained on the sidewalk and street outside.

    The situation took a dramatic turn for the worse, and the police began beating people who resisted with their nightsticks. The crowd started throwing rocks and bottles rather than coins. The police took refuge inside the Inn, which they trashed. This was the first time the homosexual community had resisted with such force. With this event, the gay rights movement was ignited.

    • “While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”

      6/1/07  Senator Barack Obama

  4. White House Office Hours with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

    Kori Schulman June 25, 2012 06:51 PM EDT

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is joining us for special session of White House Office Hours on Wednesday, June 27th at 2:00 p.m. EDT. During a live Q&A on Twitter, Secretary Duncan will answer your questions about college affordability and the administration’s education policies and priorities.

    Will you join us? Here’s how it works:

    * Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat

    *Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive Twitter account
    If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse

    * Today, higher education isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity that every American family should be able to afford. But it’s also getting more and more expensive.

    For the first time ever, Americans owe more in student loans than in credit card debt. That’s why the President is calling on Congress to keep interest rates low so that every hardworking student gets a fair shot at the skills and training needed to get a good job in today’s economy.

    If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates on federal student loans will double on July 1 and more than 7 million students around the country will rack up an average of $1,000 of extra debt each. Raise your voice and reach out if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1. As the President said, “If you tweet, use the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate ” Learn more at WhiteHouse.gov/Double .

    Take a few minutes to watch President Obama speak on the issue, then join us for Office Hours with Secretary Duncan on June 27th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

    A Call to Stop Interest Rates on Student Loans From Doubling

    Published on Jun 21, 2012 by whitehouse

    President Obama continues to call on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1 and encourages students to Use the hashtag #Dontdoublemyrate

  5. Campaign Money Case Could Propel More Deregulation

    June 26, 2012, 02:34 am ET by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Corporations and labor unions have been emboldened this election season to spend unlimited sums of cash. The Supreme Court is telling them to go full speed ahead.

    The high court on Monday reaffirmed its controversial Citizens United decision from 2010, following a challenge to a Montana law that prohibited corporate spending in elections. But the decision in the Montana case probably will mean a push for more campaign-finance deregulation.

    In the middle of a presidential race already brimming with cash from “super” political committees, the decision leaves no ambiguity that the practice can continue — benefiting the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney the most. Super PACs so far have spent tens of millions of dollars on the presidential election.

    The ruling was a victory for those who support few restrictions, saying the First Amendment affords them the right to spend as much as they want to support or defeat a candidate. Reformers vowed to press on, hoping to craft new laws to curb what they call the corrupting influence of money in politics.

    “The Supreme Court today has left standing the disastrous Citizens United decision and the enormous damage it is doing to our democracy and political system,” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said Monday.

    The ruling, more importantly, leaves the campaign finance system with fewer restrictions on how money may be spent in politics. It could mean that advocates of deregulation will push for stripping away existing limits on direct contributions to candidates, or turning back disclosure laws some call anathema to anonymous speech.

    Citizens United and a handful of other recent federal court decisions have collectively wiped out many campaign finance regulations born out of the Watergate era and the early 2000s.

    Election law observers had awaited Monday’s decision, which could have seen the court revisit Citizens United.

    The Montana case could give the Supreme Court “an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a dissenter in Citizens United, said in granting a February stay of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision upholding the state’s century-old law.

    For more: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=155748177

  6. 2012 Rocket City Pride Parade – Huntsville, AL.wmv

    Published on Jun 25, 2012 by TheGregoryHiggins

    I decided to take some random footage from 2012 Rocket City Pride and put it into a format to share what was an emotionally fulfilling day for me. I hope you enjoy it and during this 6 minutes, understand why I am feeling so PROUD and at PEACE with ME…after 30 long years…to have this freedom was an epiphinal moment for me. If you don’t understand, the theme by James Robinson and LGBTAYS, “The Closet Kills” sums it up. If it does not kill you physically, it stifles and suffocates you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. After standing on the edge of the abyss for 30 years and seeing the only the darkness, I have come to realize that God created me, equally, and he loves me. He loves me no matter what any earthly person, government or organization thinks of me. NOW there is light, hope and hope in my life like I have never known. I AM NOT ASHAMED AND I AM VERY PROUD to be a HUMAN BEING.

  7. June 26, 2012

    Statement by the Press Secretary on Student Loan Interest Rates

    We’re pleased that the Senate has reached a deal to keep rates low and continue offering hard-working students a fair shot at an affordable education. Higher education has never been more important to getting a good job. That’s why President Obama has made stopping this rate hike and saving 7.4 million students an average of $1,000 a priority since his State of the Union and has repeatedly called on Congress to act. We hope that Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the President as soon as possible.

  8. Obama for America TV Ad: “Revealed – OH

    Published on Jun 26, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
    Get the facts: http://OFA.BO/7QneWh

    “Day One. President Romney stands up to China.”

    But would he?

    The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping US jobs overseas.

    Investing in firms that ‘specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China.’

    Romney’s never stood up to China. All he’s ever done is send them our jobs.

    • Obama for America TV Ad: “Revealed – VA”

      Published on Jun 26, 2012 by
      BarackObamadotcom
      Get the facts: http://OFA.BO/28RygK

      “President Romney’s first 100 Days…creating thousands of new jobs for Virginians.”

      But would he?

      The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping US jobs overseas.

      Investing in firms that ‘specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.’

      Does Virginia really want an Outsourcer-In-Chief in the White House?

    • Obama for America TV Ad: “Revealed – IA”

      Published on Jun 26, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
      Get the facts: http://OFA.BO/L2eNit

      “President Romney’s first 100 Days. For the people of Iowa, they mean fewer worries about their future.”

      Fewer Worries?

      The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping US jobs overseas.

      Investing in firms that ‘specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.’

      Does Iowa really want an Outsourcer-In-Chief in the White House?

  9. BREAKING PRIMARY NEWS

    .

    New York primary 2012: Rangel prevails, Barron trounced in N.Y.

    By ALEX ISENSTADT | 6/26/12 7:08 PM EDT Updated: 6/26/12 11:19 PM EDT POLITICO

    NEW YORK – Rep. Charles Rangel survived the toughest reelection fight of his career, overcoming health and ethics troubles to extend his four-decade run in the House with a commanding win in the New York primary Tuesday night.

    With more than a three-fifths of precincts reporting, Rangel was leading state Sen. Adriano Espaillat by nearly 20 points, sealing the New York Democrat’s victory.

    For more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77866.html

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77866.html#ixzz1yxcWuNKC

    • Hatch overcomes tea party challenge to win primary

      6/26/12 By KEVIN FREKING and PAUL FOY | Associated Press – 17 mins ago

      SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Sen. Orrin Hatch won the GOP primary in Utah on Tuesday, handily turning back a challenge from tea party forces hoping to jolt the Republican Party again by defeating an incumbent who occasionally strayed from the movement’s focus on shrinking the federal government.

      Until this summer, Hatch, 78, had not faced a primary challenge since winning office in 1976. Former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who survived a 2008 plane crash in Guatemala that killed 11 of 14 on board, won just enough support at the state GOP’s nominating convention to advance to the primary.

      For more: http://news.yahoo.com/hatch-overcomes-tea-party-challenge-win-primary-031041488.html

  10. Picnic time

    6/27/12 4:55 AM EDT POLITICO44

    President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to host an evening picnic at the White House for members of Congress and their families.

    Earlier in the day, he will meet for lunch with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed “to discuss our continued cooperation on regional issues,” the White House said. He will also attend a campaign fundraiser at the Jefferson Hotel.

  11. Mortgage applications fell last week: MBA

    6/27/12 Anna Louie Sussman – Reuters – 6 mins ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as refinancing applications for government loans slowed, an industry group said on Wednesday.

    The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 7.1 percent in the week ended June 22.

    The MBA’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications decreased by 8.3 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, fell by 1.4 percent.

    The refinance share of total mortgage activity fell to 79 percent of applications from more than 81 percent the week before. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, attributed the decline to a fall-off in refinance applications for government-backed loans, which had soared the previous week.

    “The large swings in activity were due to the implementation of FHA’s new premiums on streamline refinances, and borrowers timing their application to lower their premiums,” he said in a statement.

    Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 3.88 percent in the week, a gain of a single basis point from 3.87 the week before.
    The survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.

  12. Durable Goods Orders In U.S. Rise More Than Forecast

    Jun 27, 2012 5:42 AM PT By Shobhana Chandra – bloomberg

    Orders for durable goods climbed more than forecast in May, easing concern that U.S. manufacturing is faltering.

    Bookings rose 1.1 percent, the first increase in three months, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 76 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.5 percent gain. Excluding the volatile transportation equipment, orders for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 0.4 percent.

    “This comes as a relief that businesses aren’t completely cutting back,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, who projected a 1 percent gain in orders. “We still have to be quite cautious as there is considerable uncertainty. U.S. growth will be moderate.”

    Growth is cooling as a slowdown in global markets emanating from Europe harms exports and curtails equipment spending, hurting sales at manufacturers like Joy Global Inc. (JOY) In addition, slackening demand from American households facing 8.2 percent unemployment may help explain why the Federal Reserve extended a plan to keep borrowing costs low.

    Stock-index futures held earlier gains after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in September rose 0.2 percent to 1,318 at 8:41 a.m. in New York.

    Survey estimates for bookings ranged from a decline of 1.5 percent to an increase of 2 percent. The Commerce Department revised the April reading to a 0.2 percent drop from unchanged as previously reported.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-27/orders-for-durable-goods-in-u-s-rise-more-than-forecast.html

  13. U.S. Pending Home Sales Jump More Than Expected In May

    6/27/12 Nasdaq – 6 minutes ago

    (RTTNews.com) – Pending home sales in the U.S. rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of May, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Wednesday, with pending sales matching the highest level in the past two years.

    NAR said its pending home sales jumped 5.9 percent to 101.1 in May from 95.5 in April. Economists had expected pending home sales to show a much more modest 1.2 percent increase.

    With the bigger than expected increase, the index matched the reading seen in March, which is the highest level since April of 2010.

    • strengthening-the-american-middle-class

      Biden: Country doesn’t need ‘outsourcer-in-chief’

      6/27/12 12:47 PM EDT By JENNIFER EPSTEIN – POLITICO44

      Vice President Joe Biden kept up his attacks Wednesday on Mitt Romney’s “fundamentally different value system,” which he said includes sending jobs — and wealth — out of the country.

      “We need to choose a commander-in-chief, not an outsourcer-in-chief,” he told a crowd of 500 gathered along the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. “We need someone who creates jobs in Dubuque, Davenport, Pittsburgh and Toledo, not in Singapore, South Korea, and Shanghai.”

      Romney “just has a different sense of what’s going to make America better,” Biden said in a speech kicking off the second day of his two-day bus tour of Iowa, which he began Tuesday with a similar speech assailing the Republican candidate’s ties to outsourcing and other policies unfavorable to the middle class. “There’s a big disconnect between what he says, what he means and what he’s done.”

      What he’s done, Biden said, is sent jobs overseas, whether during his time heading Bain Capital or during his term as governor of Massachusetts. Though the Romney campaign has countered that the Obama team doesn’t “understand the difference between offshoring and outsourcing,” Biden said to laughter.

      “If you’re looking for work, that’s a pretty cruel joke,” he said. “You think it matters to the American worker? You think it matters to the community? Either way, Romney helped … take work that was being done in the United States or could have been done in the United States and sent it overseas, off American shores.”

      Biden also attacked Romney for sending his own wealth overseas, to Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. “Talk about faith in the system,” he said.

      For more: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/06/biden-country-doesnt-need-outsourcerinchief-127437.html

  14. June 26, 2012

    Statement by the Press Secretary on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

    On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States joins the international community in pledging to work toward the elimination of torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    As the President has made clear since the first days of the Administration, the United States rejects torture as unlawful, counter to our values, and inconsistent with the universal rights and freedoms that should be enjoyed by all men, women, and children wherever they live. Torture is abhorrent: we do not practice it, and we will not countenance it or transfer individuals to any country where they will be subjected to it.

    In keeping with our laws, principles, and the Convention Against Torture, the United States continues to work with our international partners to end torture. With the development and enforcement of strong domestic laws, effective training of law enforcement and military personnel, and systematic review of interrogation, detention, and transfer practices, together we can turn over to our children a world in which no justification for torture is accepted. We will also continue to support efforts like the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

    We know that much work needs to be done as the international community moves toward its goal of eliminating torture. Until then, the United States will continue to seek an end to cruel and inhuman treatment.

    • June 27, 2012

      Joint Statement by the United States and the United Arab Emirates

      The United States and United Arab Emirates remain deeply committed to close consultation and cooperation to promote peace and stability in the Gulf region and broader Middle East. In their meeting at the White House today, President Obama and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nuhayan reviewed the full range of regional security issues including Iran, Syria, terrorism, and energy security.

      The President and Crown Prince discussed the ongoing negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program and the three Gulf islands whose sovereignty is disputed between the UAE and Iran. They called upon Iran to meet its international obligations under the Nuclear Nonprolilferation Treaty and relevant United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolutions. They also called for a peaceful resolution of the islands’ status, regarding which the United States strongly supports the UAE’s initiative to resolve the issue through direct negotiations, the International Court of Justice, or another appropriate international forum.

      Both the President and Crown Prince expressed the urgent need to implement the Annan plan to prevent further bloodshed in Syria and their support for a transition plan that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Noting the profound changes taking place in other countries in the Middle East, they called on governments and citizens alike to avoid violence, advance tolerance, and protect human rights-particularly the rights of women. They highlighted the importance of reforms that support accountable governance, increase civic participation, and promote economic opportunities, especially for young people.

      The President and Crown Prince pledged to sustain the two countries’ joint counter-terrorism and security initiatives in the region. They discussed programs to counter violent extremism and the ideological roots of terrorism, and welcomed the upcoming launch in October in Abu Dhabi of the new Center for Countering Violent Extremism, a project supported by both countries and the international community.

      The President and Crown Prince reaffirmed their commitment to strong bilateral defense cooperation to enhance regional security and deter any threat of aggression against the UAE. They identified a number of mechanisms to continue to deepen this cooperation, including more joint exercises and training, improved combined planning, and future defense equipment sales. They noted their appreciation that the militaries of the two governments had worked together in multiple coalition operations, including in Desert Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya. They discussed transition plans for Afghanistan, where UAE Special Forces units have been deployed for 10 years as part of broader coalition military and humanitarian stabilization efforts. They pledged to enhance multilateral cooperation on regional security issues through the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Cooperation Forum.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/27/joint-statement-united-states-and-united-arab-emirates

  15. Next Up…

    2:30 PM ET
    Advanced Vehicles, Driving Growth
    The Obama Administration is bringing together diverse auto-sector stakeholders at a White House event to celebrate success stories in the remarkable resurgence of the auto industry and spotlight leaders who represent President Obama’s vision of out-innovating and out-manufacturing the rest of the world.
    The White House

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    • Advanced Vehicles: Driving Growth Part 1

      Published on Jun 27, 2012 by whitehouse

      The Obama Administration brings together diverse auto-sector stakeholders at a White House event to celebrate success stories in the remarkable resurgence of the auto industry and spotlight leaders who represent President Obama’s vision of out-innovating and out-manufacturing the rest of the world. June 27, 2012.

    • Advanced Vehicles: Driving Growth Part 2

      Published on Jun 27, 2012 by whitehouse

      The Obama Administration brings together diverse auto-sector stakeholders at a White House event to celebrate success stories in the remarkable resurgence of the auto industry and spotlight leaders who represent President Obama’s vision of out-innovating and out-manufacturing the rest of the world. June 27, 2012.

  16. Obama calls Hollande ahead of European leaders’ meeting

    6/27/12 2:54 PM EDT By JENNIFER EPSTEIN – POLITICO44

    President Obama called French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday, continuing his post-G-20 outreach to leaders gathering in Brussels later this week to work out their next steps toward strengthening the Eurozone.

    The two leaders used the call to continue their “dialogue on the economic developments in Europe,” the White House said in a readout. “They discussed the importance of continued efforts to promote growth and stability in the Eurozone. ”

    Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who Obama has not spoken to since last week’s summit in Los Cabos — appeared together in Paris on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday and Friday’s meeting in Brussels. “We both want to deepen the economic and monetary union, and later the political union, to get solidarity. As much integration as necessary, as much solidarity as possible,” Hollande said.

    Obama spoke to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday to congratulate him on his election and to urge “to work closely with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in the implementation of Greece’s reform program.”

  17. Clinton hopes Geneva Syria meeting “a turning point”

    6/27/12 Andrew Quinn – Reuters – 9 hrs ago

    HELSINKI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday she was “keeping her calendar open” for international mediator Kofi Annan’s proposed meeting on Syria on Saturday and hoped it would be a turning point in the crisis.

    Clinton said she was awaiting Annan’s formal announcement of the Geneva meeting, and that the United States fully endorsed a road map for a political transition in Syria that Annan has circulated to major powers.

    “If we can meet on the basis of that road map…then I think a meeting makes a lot of sense,” Clinton told reporters in Helsinki where she is on an official visit. “I’m keeping my calendar open for a meeting with a great hope that this perhaps can be a turning point in the very tragic circumstances affecting the Syrian people at this time.”

  18. Refinancing 5 Things To Know

    Matt Compton June 27, 2012 04:21 PM EDT

    We’ve been talking to you about President Obama’s plan to cut through the red tape keeping millions of responsible homeowners from refinancing their mortgages, but we want to make sure your friends get the message, too.

    So we’ve put together a graphic that boils the President’s proposal down to the five things that everyone should know, and the information is all right here.

    refinancing_5_things_to_know

  19. GOP WRONG WAY

    ‘Vague, general or downright evasive’

    Jun 27, 2012 12:28 PM EDT By Steve Benen – maddowblog

    For those of us who’ve marveled for months at Mitt Romney’s reluctance to take firm positions on major issues, it’s heartening to see so many others start to notice the same problem.

    Politico reported this week, “Vague, general or downright evasive policy prescriptions on some of the most important issues facing the country are becoming the rule for Romney.” MSNBC’s own Joe Scarborough told viewers this week the Romney campaign’s “goal is to not let people know what he believes on one issue after another.” Chris Cillizza noted yesterday that Romney “continues to decline to outline specific policies or take firm positions,” adding, “How sustainable is this?”

    Today, the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh highlighted the same problem.

    When Mitt Romney ran for governor in 2002, he campaigned like the management consultant he had once been, digging deep into issues and proposing thoughtful plans based on his analysis of the facts. It was a winning performance.

    A decade later, however, it’s as if an anti-matter Mitt is running for president. This Romney takes regular refuge in vague answers and foggy formulations. And not just on caught-by-surprise matters such as President Obama’s new policy not to deport certain young illegal immigrants.

    Rather, the vagueness extends to the heart of the Republican candidate’s core proposals.

    There’s a running list of issues Romney is afraid to take a firm position on, and it keeps getting longer.

    The next question, of course, is why Romney does this.

    For more: http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/27/12439814-vague-general-or-downright-evasive?lite

    • June 27, 2012

      Remarks by the President at a Picnic for Members of Congress

      South Lawn

      7:12 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody!

      AUDIENCE: Hello!

      THE PRESIDENT: Now, you don’t have to worry, I will not be singing. We have professionals for that. (Laughter.) But on behalf of Michelle and myself, I just want to say welcome. We have a perfect day for a picnic. It is spectacular.

      We want to thank, as usual, our outstanding Marine Band. (Applause.) They can play anything at any time. And we’re so grateful for their service to our country. Obviously, that goes to all our men and women in uniform, and today is a great day for us to acknowledge everything they do to provide our liberty and way of life.

      I want to say a special welcome not only to the members of Congress, but most importantly to their families — (applause) — because Michelle reminds me every day how difficult it is to be married to a politician. (Laughter.) And the sacrifices that all of you make — the birthday parties that get missed, or the soccer games that you’re late to, the travel that keeps you away from your loved ones — all of that obviously is in service of our country, and you guys are serving alongside those of us who hold elective office. So we’re thrilled that you have at least one day where you got a chance to be together in Washington and nobody is arguing.

      So that also just reminds me that for all the political differences that are sometimes expressed in this town, we are first and foremost Americans — not Democrats or Republicans. (Applause.) And I think all of us want to make sure that during extraordinarily challenging times for this country that we constantly keep that in mind. That’s what the people who sent us here are expecting. And I know that each of us in our own way are hopeful that because of the work that we do here we pass on something a little better and a little brighter to our kids and our grandkids.

      And so, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you. I’m glad I see some folks here in shorts — (laughter) — and some Hawaiian shirts. And so everybody is dressed appropriately for a picnic. If you still have your tie on, take it off. (Laughter.) Make sure to enjoy the barbecue, enjoy the music.

      MRS. OBAMA: Go see the garden.

      THE PRESIDENT: Go see the garden if you want. And we are going to be coming down on this rope line and I want to be able to shake everybody’s hands. I warn you in advance that because the line is long, it’s going to be hard for us to pose for individual pictures for everybody. The exceptions that we make are kids who are 12 and under. How about that? That’s going to be our cutoff. (Applause.) So little kids, if you want a picture, I don’t mind. I can’t say no to little kids. You bigger folks, you’re just going to get a handshake and maybe a kiss if — (laughter) — unless you haven’t shaved, in which case — anyway, everybody have a wonderful time.

      God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

      END
      7:16 P.M. EDT

  20. GOP WRONG WAY

    Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas

    June 21 By Tom Hamburger – washingtonpost

    Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

    During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it’s taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.

    “They’ve been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs,” he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. “If I’m president of the United States, that’s going to end.”

    Speaking at a metalworking factory in Cincinnati last week, Romney cited his experience as a businessman, saying he knows what it would take to bring employers back to the United States. “For me it’s all about good jobs for the American people and a bright and prosperous future,” he said.

    For years, Romney’s political opponents have tried to tie him to the practice of outsourcing American jobs. These political attacks have often focused on Bain’s involvement in specific business deals that resulted in job losses.

    But a Washington Post examination of securities filings shows the extent of Bain’s investment in firms that specialized in helping other companies move or expand operations overseas. While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.

    Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field.

    Over the past two decades, American companies have dramatically expanded their overseas operations and supply networks, especially in Asia, while shrinking their workforces at home. McKinsey Global Institute estimated in 2006 that $18.4 billion in global information technology work and $11.4 billion in business-process services have been moved abroad.

    For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/romneys-bain-capital-invested-in-companies-that-moved-jobs-overseas/2012/06/21/gJQAsD9ptV_story.html

    • Washington Post declines Romney request to retract article on Bain Capital

      06/27/12 04:25 PM ET By Justin Sink – washingtonpost

      A spokesperson for The Washington Post said Wednesday the newspaper would not be retracting a controversial report about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital despite a request from the candidate’s campaign.

      The announcement came after members of Romney’s staff met with senior editors in Washington on Wednesday afternoon to ask them to withdraw the article.

      “We will not be issuing a retraction,” Post communications director Kris Coratti said, adding she could not discuss additional details of the meeting.

      The Romney campaign has declined to comment on the matter.

      The article, published earlier this month, found that under Romney’s tenure, the venture capital firm he helmed invested in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs.

      Before the meeting began, Coratti said editors would seriously weigh the Romney campaign’s concerns.

      “The editors take complaints seriously and are always willing to listen to concerns and look into them,” she noted.

      The June 21 story was seized upon by Democrats with President Obama frequently citing it during campaign speeches and his reelection team running ads against Romney on the issue.

      For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/235123-romney-campaign-to-meet-with-washington-post-ask-for-retraction-of-bain-story

  21. Thursday, June 28, 2012

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    8:15 AM
    Dr. Jill Biden deliver remarks at the 2012 LULAC National Convention & Exposition Community Service Breakfast.
    Orlando, FL

    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the presidential daily briefing.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church’s conference.
    The Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis, TN

    12:15 PM
    President Obama Speaks on Health Care
    The White House

    12:45 PM
    President Obama and Vice President Biden meet for lunch.
    Private Dining Room
    Closed Press

    1:00 PM
    1:35 PM
    President Obama departs the White House en route Bethesda, Maryland.
    South Lawn
    Open Press

    1:45 PM
    President Obama arrives in Bethesda, Maryland.
    Travel Pool Coverage

    2:00 PM
    President Obama visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
    Bethesda, Maryland
    Closed Press

    2:45 PM
    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at campaign event
    Memphis, TN

    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    4:40 PM
    President Obama departs Bethesda, Maryland en route the White House.
    Travel Pool Coverage

    4:50 PM
    President Obama arrives at the White House.
    South Lawn
    Open Press

    5:00 PM
    President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Panetta.
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      June 28, 2012

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      12:15 PM ET
      President Obama Speaks on Health Care
      The White House

      —-

      CNN http://live.cnn.com

      10:00 AM ET
      Supreme Court Health Care Law Decision

      12:15 PM ET
      President Obama Speaks on Health Care
      The White House

      12:00 PM ET
      House lawmakers may vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to “Fast and Furious.”

      12:15 PM ET
      President Obama Speaks on Health Care
      The White House

      12:15 PM ET
      House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will discuss the Supreme Court’s health care ruling and the planned contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder at her briefing.

      12:30 PM ET
      Health care ruling: Sen. John Kerry briefing
      Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, reacts to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

      1:00 PM ET
      U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks before the League Of United Latin American Citizens National Convention and Exposition.
      House to vote on holding Holder in contempt

      4:00 PM ET
      Full House Votes on Contempt Charges Against Atty. Gen. Holder

      4:45 PM ET
      Attorney General statement on House vote
      Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks on the House vote on whether or not to hold him in contempt.

      —-

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10:00 AM ET
      Supreme Court Health Care Law Decision http://www.c-span.org/Events/Supreme-Court-Announces-Health-Care-Ruling/10737431946-10/

      12:00 PM ET
      House lawmakers may vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to “Fast and Furious.”http://www.c-span.org/Events/Full-House-Votes-on-Contempt-Charges-Against-Atty-Gen-Holder/10737431952/

      12:15 PM ET
      President Obama Speaks on Health Care
      The White House

      12:15 PM ET
      House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will discuss the Supreme Court’s health care ruling and the planned contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder at her briefing.

      12:30 PM ET
      Health care ruling: Sen. John Kerry briefing
      Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, reacts to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

      1:00 PM ET
      U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks before the League Of United Latin American Citizens National Convention and Exposition.
      House to vote on holding Holder in contempt

      4:00 PM ET
      Full House Votes on Contempt Charges Against Atty. Gen. Holder

      4:45 PM ET
      Attorney General statement on House vote
      Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks on the House vote on whether or not to hold him in contempt.

  22. Democrats go on offense ahead of Supreme Court healthcare ruling

    6/27/12 11:58 AM ET By Mike Lillis – TheHill

    Democrats sought to take the offensive on healthcare Wednesday, a day before a landmark Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

    House Democrats said the high-court ruling would be a clear indication of whether the nation’s highest court is partisan or impartial, even as they sought to raise campaign funds off the pending decision.

    “We’ll find out this week if the Supreme Court is listening to the American people and following the U.S. Constitution,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, “or if it’s becoming more and more what we’ve seen in the past: a partisan body no different from the Congress.”

    The ruling, Becerra added, will reveal “whether there are nine people in the Supreme Court who are going to try to do the bidding of special interests or who are actually listening to the needs of the American people guided by the Constitution of the United States.”

    For more: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/235065-healthcare-ruling-is-litmus-test-supreme-court-neutrality-democrats-say

    • Daschle: Supreme Court will ‘make history’ with health care ruling

      June 28, 2012 Interview by Jeremy Hobson – Marketplace Morning Report

      TRANSCRIPT
      Jeremy Hobson: As we await the Supreme Court’s big decision on health care, we’ve got a key player in federal health care policy with us to discuss: Sen. Tom Daschle. He is the former Senate majority leader and now is a senior policy adviser at DLA Piper, and he joins us from Washington. Good morning.

      Tom Daschle: Good morning, Jeremy.

      Hobson: First of all, what do you think is going to happen? What will the Supreme Court decide on health care?

      Daschle: Well we know this: They’ll make history. And we know also that they’re going to have a huge impact today with whatever decision they make on the way health care’s provided in our country for years and years to come. Beyond that, it’s almost impossible to predict.

      Hobson: Well let’s go with one possibility, then, and see what would happen next. Obviously, if they say that it is constitutional, then we know what happens. If they say that part of it or all of it is not constitutional, what is the next step for health care reform in that case?

      Daschle: There’s a number of things, frankly. It’s still going to be a matter of public policy, so you’re going to see the Congress involved. Obviously, between now and the election, I don’t think much is going to get done. You’re going to see hyperbolic rhetoric — probably on both sides — but certainly some claiming victory and some vowing to continue. But beyond that, you’ve still got a good deal of power within the administration and within the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out a number of proposals. You also will have a significant amount of additional activity at the state level. All those levels will continue to play out.

      Hobson: Do you think that there will be — let’s say that it’s declared unconstitutional — do you think that there is going to be another move? Let’s say President Obama gets re-elected with a Democratic Congress to spend a year putting together a new health care reform package?

      Daschle: I don’t know that there’s going to be the kind of consensus around a new proposal that quickly. Ultimately, I think what you’re going to see is that Congress is going to move away from the commerce clause to their taxing authority. They’ve already mandated two things under their taxing authority: they’ve mandated retirement insurance through Social Security, and they actually have mandated Medicare health insurance through Medicare Part A. So we’ve mandated on the other side, and that’s never really been seriously challenged. So my guess is, ultimately, you’re going to see the Congress move in that direction.

      Hobson: Do you think it was a mistake then not to use that same authority to mandate people buying health insurance, and instead use the commerce clause?

      Daschle: From a constitutional point of view, we’ll know today. But I don’t know that we’ll know anything more than that. Obviously, it was a safer move. Whether it was the right move, only the Supreme Court will now tell us.

      Hobson: There are certain parts of the health care reform law that have already gone into effect, like allowing kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. Are there other parts of the law, do you think, that would have made it more popular with the American people if they had already gone into effect instead of waiting until 2014 in some cases?

      Daschle: I think if we could have created the exchanges ahead of time, where people could see on a much more graphic and personal way what this meant for them, in terms of their ability to buy insurance and in terms of the subsidies that many middle-class subscribers would be eligible for. If those things had kicked in earlier, there’s no question in my mind that they too would be very popular and the tone would have been different. It takes a while, and I think there are good reasons why they had to be delayed, but clearly — the more people know, the more people like and that will continue for as long as this legislation is on the books.

      Hobson: When you look at the polls, this law is not very popular in any of them. How do you think that happened? How did this law — which was aimed at helping the American people get health insurance — become so unpopular?

      Daschle: Well I think first of all, it became heavily politicized and because it became so politicized, it became a Republican/Democratic thing right out of the box, so there you lose half. Then you’ve got a tremendous amount of effort on the part of many of the conservative media — Fox News and the radio pundits — they have all chipped in. And finally, you’ve got the arbiter of credibility, the judges themselves. Some very conservative judges declaring this unconstitutional. That three-step process had a lot to do with people’s perceptions changing dramatically over the last couple of years.

      Hobson: Is there any difference between that politicization of this and the politicization of just about everything these days? I mean, everything becomes right and left.

      Daschle: No, unfortunately our country is very, very polarized today, and the Congress reflects that, this campaign for president reflects it. And certainly even perhaps the Supreme Court decision could reflect it — I hope not.

      Hobson: I saw that you had written that one idea to reduce the polarization in Washington is to have lawmakers actually spend more time there rather than less so that they can hang out with each other and become friends.

      Daschle: Well Jeremy, the problem today is, in many respects, the airplane has allowed people to leave on Thursdays and come back on Tuesdays. One thing that’s hard to do is govern an entire country on Wednesdays, so that’s part of the problem. But also because you don’t know one another, you don’t build the kind of relationships. If you don’t build the relationships, you don’t really have the kind of trust. If you don’t have the trust, you don’t have the environment for real legislative agreement and common ground.

      Hobson: You were the leader of the U.S. Senate in a very amazing moment of bipartisan unity right after 9/11. How do you think that we lost that so quickly?

      Daschle: I think a couple of things. One, the party — especially the Republican Party — became far more ideological and that created more of a chasm. You just had a very significant series of confluences, including just this extraordinary change in the way we raise money — the super PACs and all of the incredible resources now dedicated to playing out the messages on both sides. But all of that has contributed. The media has changed. It used to be the media, in large measure, were referees. Now, in many cases, the media are participants, and because they’re participants, they’ve added yet another edge to this chasm that creates so much more conflict than we saw earlier.

      Hobson: What do you miss about your time in the public sector, if anything at this point? You’ve been in the private sector for a while.

      Daschle: Well, to be honest, I miss the power. The senators have an enormous amount of power, probably second only to the president of the United States — the power to do the kinds of things that you sought office to do. You miss that; you miss your relationships; you miss sometimes the excitement, the intensity. But there’s a lot of nonsense you don’t miss as well. So I’m perfectly content to be where I am.

      Hobson: Let me ask you one more thing: Where do you think the Obama administration made mistakes on health care reform and how they did it and whether they thought about, I guess, the constitutionality of it?

      Daschle: I think the president did an outstanding job in getting this legislation passed into law — nobody has done that in all of history. But where we could have done more — and I include myself in this — has been better messengers. Better people, advocates, after the law was enacted, to explain and describe. Now part of the reason for that is that most of the promotional, educational money was taken out in the name of bringing down the costs overall of the bill. But by and large, we let the other side define this legislation, and that was a huge mistake.

      Hobson: And a lot of people on the left think that it wasn’t strong enough.

      Daschle: Well that’s true. Was this the perfect bill from the perspective of most people? No. Did it go a long way to achieving what could be ultimately a far better health care delivery mechanism in our marketplace today? Absolutely. You never get to the very perfect description of legislation on the first round — Social Security was that way, Medicare was that way. We’re going to continue to see the evolution of health care, regardless.

      Hobson: Sen. Tom Daschle, former majority leader of the U.S. Senate, now a senior policy adviser at the law firm DLA Piper. Thank you so much for talking with us.

      Daschle: My pleasure, Jeremy.

      For the audio interview: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/elections/health-care/daschle-supreme-court-will-make-history-health-care-ruling

  23. Black caucus to stage walkout during Holder contempt vote in House

    6/27/12 06:57 PM ET By Jordy Yager – TheHill

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) plan to stage a walkout during Thursday’s vote on whether to place Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

    The CBC is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday to discuss the details of the walkout and is planning to circulate a letter to House Democrats requesting that they join them on the Capitol steps for a press conference during the contempt vote.

    The move comes less than 24 hours before the House plans to vote for the first time in history to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress for not complying with a congressional subpoena. Holder is the first black attorney general in U.S. history.

    The walkout is reminiscent of a similar move made by Republicans in 2008 during a Democratic-led vote on whether to hold two senior staffers in President George W. Bush’s administration in contempt of Congress.

    For more: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/235229-black-caucus-to-stage-walkout-during-holder-contempt-vote-in-house

  24. Michelle Obama to host fundraiser in Memphis on June 28

    June 6, 2012 By Bartholomew Sullivan – ommercialappeal

    WASHINGTON – Perseverance paid off Wednesday when the Obama for America campaign announced that Michelle Obama will hold a fundraiser in Memphis on June 28.

    The first lady has increasingly been deployed by the campaign to bolster support among African-American women and military families. Her visit to what’s perceived to be a very red Tennessee follows a fundraiser she held in April in Nashville.

    President Barack Obama last visited Memphis to deliver the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in May 2011.

    “We’ve been requesting for her to come and visit since the inauguration,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

    “Everybody loves her,” he added.

    Memphis Mayor A C Wharton also has established strong ties with the White House and had also made it known Memphis wanted a visit from the first lady.

    Tomeka Hart, who is challenging Cohen for the 9th District Democratic nomination, said Michelle Obama “has a lot of respect” in Memphis. “People admire her as a strong woman,” she said.

    Former Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Keith Norman said both Obamas have enormous support in Memphis and her presence will galvanize a big turnout in November.

    “We’re glad they’re putting Memphis as a campaign stop this year,” he said.

    For more: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jun/06/michelle-obama-host-fundraiser-memphis-june-28/?partner=RSS

  25. Brought To You By The NRA

    The NRA is planning to score tomorrow’s House vote on contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder. They will be checking their list twice to see if you’ve been naughty or nice, and if you’ve been naughty, they’re going to run attack ads in your distract.

    The National Rifle Association (NRA) warned House lawmakers last week that it will score Thursday’s vote on the Republicans’ contempt resolution, which accuses Holder of stonewalling a GOP investigation into a bungled gun-walking program under his Department of Justice (DOJ). […]

    Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) also questioned the NRA’s involvement, calling it an “extraordinary” step even as he conceded it will likely swing some Democratic votes behind the contempt measure.

    “The NRA is a major force on this Hill,” Larson said. “It seems rather extraordinary that they would score this issue, but some members are impacted by that.”

    Because the entire Fast and Furious witch hunt is based on the NRA conspiracy theory that says the Obama Administration started a gun-walking program, resulting in the death of an ATF agent, to justify stricter gun laws (the NRA makes no secret of this), it makes perfect since that the NRA would be threatening House members with retribution if they vote against the contempt resolution.

    Fortune, meanwhile, published the results of their 6-month-long investigation into Fast and Furious today and concluded that the entire premise of House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa’s witch hunt is completely baseless and is rooted in the machinations of a hot-headed ATF agent.

    The report is exhaustingly extensive and I recommend reading it in full, but this excerpt is the factually-incorrect incident which sparked the entire controversy.

    The agents faced numerous obstacles in what they dubbed the Fast and Furious case. (They named it after the street-racing movie because the suspects drag raced cars together.) Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney’s office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.

    On Dec. 14, 2010, a tragic event rewrote the narrative of the investigation. In a remote stretch of Peck Canyon, Ariz., Mexican bandits attacked an elite U.S. Border Patrol unit and killed an agent named Brian Terry. The attackers fled, leaving behind two semiautomatic rifles. A trace of the guns’ serial numbers revealed that the weapons had been purchased 11 months earlier at a Phoenix-area gun store by a Fast and Furious suspect.

    Ten weeks later, an ATF agent named John Dodson, whom Voth had supervised, made startling allegations on the CBS Evening News. He charged that his supervisors had intentionally allowed American firearms to be trafficked—a tactic known as “walking guns”—to Mexican drug cartels. Dodson claimed that supervisors repeatedly ordered him not to seize weapons because they wanted to track the guns into the hands of criminal ringleaders. The program showed internal e-mails from Voth, which purportedly revealed agents locked in a dispute over the deadly strategy. The guns permitted to flow to criminals, the program charged, played a role in Terry’s death.

    The Fortune report paints John Dodson as a disgruntled, arrogant, reckless agent who bungled his own operations. Dobson concocted these wild accusations with the aid of right-wing bloggers, former militia members, and local politicians to cover up his own shortcomings and seek revenge on his former supervisor Dave Voth.

    Dave Voth was an exemplary agent hamstrung by laughably irresponsible gun laws who lacked a mandate to arrest and charge suspects his team had been tracking.

    Guns were never intentionally walked until John Dobson took matters into his own hands and purchased firearms with taxpayer money, passed them on to gun-runners, and then didn’t bother to intercept the guns before they crossed the border.

    The accusations levied by John Dobson on CBS, the program which sparked the year-long witch hunt, came only after Brian Terry was killed and Dobson was questioned by congressional staff.

    Over a year later we’re one day away from a vote of contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder. Why? Because he has not turned over documents produced by the Inspector General concerning the investigation of the events detailed in this Fortune report. Documents which Eric Holder cannot legally turn over.

    It’s an investigation with enormous implications, and Darrell Issa and the Republicans are channeling the fear of NRA backlash, conspiracy theories, and misinformation into congressional support for their vote of contempt.

    For the Department of Justice, this a serious matter, but for the Republicans this tragic story is being used to score political points, appease NRA lobbyists, and feed the notion that the Obama administration is lawless and corrupt.

    It’s disgusting.

    http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2012/06/brought-to-you-by-the-nra.html

    • At long last, Mr. Issa, have you no shame? And the answer is no, nor does his witch-hunting party.

  26. Congress honors black Marines

    6/27/12 By ANDRES GONZALEZ | Associated Press – 36 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of African-American veterans who helped to integrate the Marine Corps during World War II at a time segregation was an everyday reality are now proud recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor.

    Nearly 70 years after the Marines of Montford Point became the first African Americans in the Corps, Congress on Wednesday awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal. The Corps was the last branch of the U.S. military to allow blacks to serve.

    Originally from Washington, D.C., then-19-year-old Charles Manuel Jr. enrolled with the Marines in 1942 straight out of high school.

    Manuel was sent to Montford Point, a North Carolina base that the Corps created to keep African Americans away from bases where other Marines trained. Roughly 20,000 other African- American Marines trained at the base, which operated from 1942 to 1949.

    He said that the training at the base was rough, because for many recruits it was their first time experiencing boot training and their instructors were White. “Our drill instructor told us, ‘You people want to be Marines, I’m going to make Marines out of you dead or alive.'”

    Manuel, now in his late 80’s, sat next to his daughter, Rosetta Holloway at the ceremony.

    “It was more than overdue,” Holloway said. “I’m very excited and pleased for my father, who’s really proud of being in the Marines.”

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/congress-honors-black-marines-223321139.html

  27. AP Source: Airbus plans factory in Alabama
    AP Source: Airbus plans first US factory in Alabama; move boosts competition with Boeing

    6/27/12 By Joshua Freed, AP Business Writer | Associated Press – 1 hr 45 mins ago

    European plane maker Airbus intends to build its first U.S. plant in Mobile, Ala., a person with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

    Airbus will assemble its A320 jet there, according to the person, who requested anonymity because a public announcement has not been made. The A320 is a widely used plane flown by U.S. airlines including Delta and US Airways.

    An Alabama plant would enable Airbus to produce planes squarely in the territory of archrival Boeing Co. It would likely mean lower production costs compared with Airbus’ European A320 production lines in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. The company also makes A320s in China.

    The plan was reported earlier Wednesday by The New York Times, citing anonymous sources who said that an announcement could come as soon as Monday.

    Airbus has said it wants to expand, and that it favors a site in the Southern U.S.

    “We have made no secret of our hopes to expand our global footprint, including in the U.S., as we have a very strong market here,” said Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn, who added that no decision has been made by the company’s board.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-source-airbus-plans-factory-234353614.html

  28. U.S. recovery varies greatly by state, county, city

    6/27/12 By Lisa Lambert | Reuters – 5 hrs ago

    (Reuters) – In a twist on the old aphorism about real estate, the three most important factors for the current U.S. economic recovery seem to be location, location, location.

    Growth right now is “extremely concentrated” in a few states, said Chris Mauro head of U.S. Municipal Research Strategy at RBC Capital Markets, adding that there has been “a general stagnation, with the exception of some of the resource-rich states.”

    Three reports released on Wednesday show wide variations in the rebound from the 2007-09 economic recession, both at the state and local levels.

    Unlike past downturns, the recession spared only a few states, largely because it hit nearly every economic sector and the states’ economies are interconnected, said Arturo Perez at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    “When things started going south, no state was able to ward off the bad stuff that was happening,” he said.

    But the states did not enter recession at the same time and some suffered less than others.

    “They’re not in lockstep going into a recession. They’re not going to be in lockstep coming out,” he said, pointing to Kansas, which did not have the same run-up in housing prices – and therefore not as steep a drop – as Nevada.

    Now, energy-rich states are sprinting toward prosperity, helped by a surge in natural gas, while others are closer to shuffling back to stability. That is creating disparities on the personal level and the political one – some states are considering cutting taxes while others are having to close budget gaps.

    In the first quarter of 2012, personal income rose in 47 of the 50 states, according to a Commerce Department report released on Wednesday that found state personal income growth was 0.8 percent in the firstquarter, compared with 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

    Personal income declined 0.3 percent in Mississippi and 0.1 percent in Kansas and was unchanged in Oklahoma in the first three months of 2012. On the other end of the spectrum, income grew the most in commodity-abundant North Dakota, 2.3 percent from the quarter before.

    Total earnings grew 0.81 percent in the first quarter, according to the report. They ranged from dropping 0.34 percent in Oklahoma to rising 1.12 percent in Washington.

    Earlier this month, the US. Census reported that economic growth was scattered across the states in 2011. A boom in mining helped North Dakota’s economy grow 7.6 percent, while in six states the economies shrank.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/u-recovery-varies-greatly-state-county-city-213217173.html

  29. 8:15 AM ET
    Dr. Jill Biden deliver remarks at the 2012 LULAC National Convention & Exposition Community Service Breakfast.
    Orlando, FL

  30. Weekly jobless claims fall by 6,000 to 386,000

    9:23 AM, June 28, 2012 DOW JONES/NEWSCORE

    WASHINGTON — The number of US workers filing initial applications for unemployment benefits fell last week but remained high, signaling muted jobs growth.

    Initial jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000 in the week ended June 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 392,000 from a previously reported 387,000.

    Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had forecast 385,000 new applications for jobless benefits last week.

    The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out the volatile weekly data, fell by 750 to 386,750.

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/weekly_jobless_claims_fall_by_to_IMNn2YIE9euyfHbuTuamRN?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Business

  31. U.S. first-quarter GDP growth stays at 1.9%

    6/28/12 By Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economy’s growth rate was unchanged in the first quarter at 1.9%, but corporate profits fell for the first time in four years while expansion in exports was much smaller than originally estimated, the government said Thursday.

    For the most part, the Commerce Department’s third and final review of first-quarter gross domestic product was little changed. The data show an economy that slowed noticeably from the 3.0% growth rate at the end of 2011, with few signs of momentum heading into the second quarter of an election year.

    For more: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-first-quarter-gdp-growth-stays-at-19-2012-06-28?siteid=rss&rss=1

  32. Consumer Comfort In U.S. Climbs To Highest Level In Two Months

    Jun 28, 2012 6:45 AM PT By Caroline Fairchild – bloomberg

    Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed last week to the highest level in two months as optimism over personal finances helped alleviate growing apprehension about the economy.

    The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 36.1 in the week ended June 24 from minus 37.9 in the previous period. The gauge of household finances was positive for the first time since April, while sentiment toward the state of the economy dropped to the lowest level since February.

    A 57-cent decrease in gasoline prices since early April is providing some relief, helping offset concern the job market is weakening by allowing employed Americans to stretch their paychecks. At the same time, sentiment among higher-income households turned negative for the first time in three months as Europe’s debt crisis hurts stock prices.

    “The decline in confidence among households earning more than $100,000 per year likely reflects concerns about portfolio exposure to the crisis in Europe and the global economic slowdown,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. Since the top 40 percent of income earners accounts for about 60 percent of consumer purchases, “even a modest pullback can have outsized effects on household spending and overall growth,” he said.

    For more; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-28/consumer-comfort-in-u-s-climbs-to-highest-level-in-two-months.html

  33. Supreme Court upholds Obamacare individual mandate as a tax

    6/28/12 By Liz Goodwin, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 31 mins ago

    In a victory for President Obama, the Supreme Court decided to uphold his signature health care law’s individual mandate in a split decision, upending speculation after hostile-seeming oral arguments in March that the justices would overturn the law. The mandate has been upheld as a tax, according to SCOTUSblog, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal wing of the court. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog says Roberts’ vote “saved’ the Affordable Care Act.

    Twenty six states sued over the law, arguing that the individual mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance or face a fine starting in 2014, was unconstitutional. Opponents cast the individual mandate as the government forcing Americans to enter a market and buy a product against their will, while the government countered that the law was actually only regulating a market that everyone is already in, since almost everyone will seek health care at some point in his or her life.

    Before oral arguments in March, polls of Supreme Court experts and scholars showed that most believed the mandate would be upheld as an exercise of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. But after justices seemed deeply skeptical of the mandate in oral arguments in March, the consensus flipped, with most experts guessing the court would strike down the law.

    House Republicans have vowed to repeal the entire law, though it’s unlikely the Democratic-controlled Senate would let that happen, and this decision will most likely slow momentum for that move.

    For more; http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/supreme-court-issue-obamacare-decision-135554880.html

    • President Obama will hold a news conference iat 12:15 PM to deliver remarks on SCOTUS’ decision on the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010” constitutionality.

    • More Answers To Your Questions About The Health Care Law

      7/6/12 by JULIE ROVNER – npr

      Now that the Supreme Court has upheld almost all of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans are scrambling to remember — or learn for the first time – what’s in the law and how it works.

      We asked for questions from our audiences online and on air. Here’s are some, edited for clarity and length, and the answers:

      Q: Will the penalty for not having health insurance affect people at all income levels, or will low-income people be spared?

      A: The short answer is no, if you can’t afford insurance you don’t have to buy it.

      Here is the slightly longer answer.

      For starters, if you don’t earn enough to have to file a federal tax return, you’re exempt. In 2010 that was $9,350 for an individual, or $18,700 for a married couple.

      You’re also exempt if you would have to pay more than 8 percent of your household’s income for health insurance, after whatever help you might get from an employer or subsidies from the federal government.

      Q: If someone is only insured for six or seven months a year, will there still be a fine?

      A: Possibly, but it would be prorated for only the months you didn’t have insurance.

      There is one exception. There’s no penalty in the law for a single gap of less than three months in a year. That’s because many employers impose a waiting period. There’s also a separate provision in the health law that forbids employers from imposing waiting periods of longer than three months. So no one will have to pay a penalty specifically because a new employer makes them wait to qualify for coverage.

      Q: I understand that businesses above a certain size have to provide a health care insurance option, but do they have to pay for it? Does the law require a certain contribution from the employer, or can the employer make the employees just pay, say, 99 percent of the premiums?

      A: This is where the law seems a little bit tricky. It doesn’t stipulate how much of the premiums employers have to pay, but it does say that overall, employers with more than 50 workers have to provide a plan that covers 60 percent of the covered expenses for a typical population. And that plan can’t cost more than 9.5 percent of family income.

      Q: How does the law affect Medicare recipients? I heard it cuts billions of dollars from the program. Does it have other effects?

      A: Let’s take these one at a time. Yes, the law does reduce Medicare spending by roughly $500 billion less than it would have been without the law. That’s over 10 years, by the way, and Medicare will cost a little under $500 billion this year. But none of that comes out of benefits guaranteed under the law.

      The biggest single chunk comes from reducing what had been overpayments to private HMOs and other health plans that serve about 20 percent of Medicare patients.

      The next biggest chunk comes from hospitals and other providers of health care that hope to get that money back because more people will have insurance.

      As to other changes to Medicare, there are actually some new benefits. The doughnut hole, that gap in coverage for prescription drugs, is being gradually closed. And Medicare patients are now getting new preventive screenings, like mammograms, without having to pay a deductible.

      Q: My son lives overseas, where he is covered by the national health insurance plan. As an American citizen, would he be required to pay the fee for not being covered under an American plan?

      A: No, only residents of the U.S. and its territories are subject to the insurance requirements.

      Q: I am a veteran getting my medical care from Veterans Affairs. Am I correct that this counts as having insurance, when it comes to the requirement that everyone be covered or pay a penalty?

      A: Yes, the VA counts. So does TRICARE and other military health plans. In fact, just about all government health care program, including Medicare and Medicaid, count as well. That’s why the Urban Institute estimates that come 2014, only about 7 million people out of the U.S. population of well over 300 million will have to either purchase insurance or be subject to paying the penalty.

      Q: If my current insurance policy does not meet the minimum requirements in the Affordable Care Act, and my insurer must raise the standards of my policy, can my insurer raise the premiums I pay?

      A: In a word, yes. That was part of the goal of the law, not just to get people without insurance to have it, but to get people with what was considered substandard insurance up to par. This is controversial, and it’s the part that leads to claims that the government is interfering in the private insurance market, which in this case it is. But it’s in the law because Congress heard about lots and lots and lots of cases where people who had insurance nevertheless ended up bankrupt because the insurance didn’t cover what they thought it did. So will this make healthy people who have to spend more unhappy? Yes. But will it protect people better when they do get sick? Yes, it will do that, too. And will the arguments about it continue? Yes, undoubtedly.

      For the audio interview: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/07/06/156391524/more-answers-to-your-questions-about-the-health-care-law

  34. Well! Stand back, everybody, because I gotta shout:

    GOOD, HAPPY AND HOPEFUL THURSDAY, CR AND ALL FRIENDS!!!

    Can’t beat HOPE! 🙂

    >^..^<

      • *honk*

        I couldn’t help it, this calls for vuvuzelas!

        YES WE CAN
        YES WE CAN
        YES WE CAN

        Fired up!

  35. 12:00 AM ET
    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church’s conference.
    The Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis, TN

    • June 28, 2012

      Remarks by the First Lady at the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference

      Gaylord Opryland Resort
      Nashville, Tennessee

      11:05 A.M. CDT

      MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my, my, my. (Applause.) Please, you all rest yourselves. Thank you so much. Let me tell you, it is such a pleasure and an honor to join you today in Nashville for your 2012 General Conference.

      I want to start by thanking Bishop McKenzie for her introduction. And I want to honor her for the history she’s made —

      AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen!

      MRS. OBAMA: Absolutely. (Applause.) For the example she has set and for her inspired leadership in this church.

      I also want to thank Mayor Dean for his service to this city and for taking the time to join us here today.

      And finally, I want to thank all of the bishops, pastors, and lay leaders in AME churches here in America and around the world. (Applause.)

      You all are part of a proud tradition, one that dates back to the founding of that first AME Church and the founding of this nation and has shaped its history every day since. You all know the story — how back in the late 1700s, a man named Richard Allen bought his freedom from slavery — (applause) — became a minister, and eventually founded a Methodist church called Bethel Church – or “Mother Bethel” as we know it today. That first AME church was located in a blacksmith’s shop, and that first congregation had just a few dozen members.

      But there’s a reason why one pastor called Bethel’s founding “a Liberty bell for black folks.” (Applause.) There’s a reason why W.E.B. Dubois said that Bethel Church “belongs to the history of the nation rather than to any one city.”

      You see, before long, that little church had grown to 1,000 members, and soon, AME Churches were cropping up all across this country. Over the years, these churches served as stops on the Underground Railroad. (Applause.) They founded universities that educated generations of black leaders. They hosted civil rights marches, meetings and rallies, even under the threat of being vandalized, bombed or burned to the ground. Icons like Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks, leaders like Jim Clyburn, trailblazers like Oliver Brown of Brown v. Board of Education, Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine — they all worshipped at AME churches. (Applause.)

      So did many of the quiet heroes who never made the headlines –- the maids walking home in Montgomery, the young people riding those buses in Jackson, the men and women who stood up and sat-in because they wanted something better for their children.

      I know that I am here today because of those heroes. (Applause.) My husband is in the White House today because of them. (Applause.) Because of those heroes, today my daughters and all our children and grandchildren can grow up dreaming of being doctors and lawyers, CEOs and senators, and yes, maybe even the President of the United States of America. (Applause.)

      That is the legacy of the AME church –- and of African American churches and denominations across the country. But let’s be clear, a legacy is not an end unto itself. (Applause.) As another pioneering AME woman, Dr. Jamye Coleman Williams, once said — (applause) — she said, “You do the best you can and try to leave a legacy, but somebody has to carry it on.” (Applause.)

      And that’s what I want to talk with you about today. I want to talk about how we carry on the legacy that is our inheritance as Americans, as African Americans, and as members of the AME church. I want to talk about what we can learn from our history about the power of being an active, engaged citizen in our democracy.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/28/remarks-first-lady-african-methodist-episcopal-church-conference

      ——–

      Michelle Obama speaks at AME Church conference in Nashville

      Published on Jun 28, 2012 by tndotcom

      Excerpts from her speech, emphasizing the engagement of citizens in democracy.

    • June 28, 2012

      Remarks by the President on Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

      East Room

      12:15 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

      I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

      And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

      First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

      There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

      All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support. And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.

      Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

      Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

      Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.

      First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

      And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

      That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/28/remarks-president-supreme-court-ruling-affordable-care-act

      • hcr_upheld

        “Rarely are they [Presidents] presented with the kind of defining moment that President Barack Obama experienced when the Supreme Court upheld his health care law.

        It’s one that will transcend his presidency, change America’s social safety net and shape how he is likely to be remembered.

        Then there’s the catch.

        If Obama does not win a second term in November, he risks losing both the [Affordable Care Act] law and the core of his legacy. Republican Mitt Romney will try to gut the law and impose something else. “

        6/23/12 By BEN FELLER | Associated Press

        .

        KEEP AMERICA’S GUARD UP

        RE-ELECT PRESIDENT OBAMA 2012

      • Health care law’s mandate unlikely to affect many people

        6/29/2012 By Tony Pugh – McClatchy Newspapers

        WASHINGTON — Despite all the spin and punditry about the national health care law’s mandate that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty, the vast majority wouldn’t be forced to buy anything or pay any penalty.

        A recent study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research center that focuses on economic and social policy, found that if the law had been fully implemented last year, 93 percent of the population under age 65 wouldn’t have faced a penalty or had to buy insurance under the mandate.

        In fact, only 6 percent of Americans, about 18 million people, would have to “newly purchase” insurance under the law, the study found. And of this group, roughly 11 million would be eligible for subsidies to help buy their coverage from new insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges,” created by the law.

        The remaining 7 million, about 2 percent of the total population and 3 percent of all Americans under age 65, wouldn’t receive any financial help and could face penalties for lacking coverage, said Linda Blumberg, a health economist and senior fellow in the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center.

        This thin sliver of Americans who would be required to pay for full coverage belies the dominant public perception that the mandate would be a financial strain for wide swaths of the population.

        “That was one of the reasons we wanted to do this study, because we felt like the real impact was being blown out of proportion,” said Blumberg, who was the lead researcher on the study.

        A closer look at numbers shows that 87.4 million of the 268.8 million Americans under age 65 would be exempt from the mandate because they are illegal immigrants, have incomes below the law’s tax-filing threshold or can’t get coverage because the premiums would eat up too much of their income.

        Nearly 75 percent of this group — 63.4 million — already have coverage, while 24 million do not. Blumberg said these 24 million comprised 7.3 million illegal immigrants, 14.3 million people whose incomes are below the tax-filing threshold and 2.4 million people who can’t get affordable coverage.

        That leaves 181 million Americans under age 65 who could be subject to the mandate, Blumberg said. But 86 percent of this group, 155 million people, already have coverage.

        “So they’re not going to be subject to any penalty. They don’t have to change anything that they’re doing,” Blumberg said. “Some of them have public coverage already, some of them are buying coverage on their own, some of them are in employer-based insurance.”

        Blumberg’s estimates reflect the participation of all states in the expanded Medicaid coverage envisioned under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

        Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/health/ci_20976848/health-care-laws-mandate-unlikely-affect-many-people

  36. STUPID QUOTE OF THE DAY:

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul weighs in:

    “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”

  37. 2:00 PM ET
    President Obama visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
    Bethesda, Maryland

    • June 28, 2012

      Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event

      Memphis Cook Convention Center
      Memphis, Tennessee

      1:56 P.M. CDT

      MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) Thank you so much. You guys look good. (Applause.) You’re holding up in all this heat, aren’t you? (Laughter.) Let me tell you, I am thrilled to be here with all of you today.

      And I want to start by thanking Jackie for that very kind introduction, but also, not just for her outstanding service and support to this campaign, but what she and her family have given to this country as military family members, Blue Star family members. So let’s give her a big round of applause. (Applause.)

      And I also want to recognize your —

      AUDIENCE MEMBER: — cure for PTSD!

      MRS. OBAMA: Okay. Yes, indeed. Yes. That’s a serious issue, and we will — we’re definitely working on it. That’s why we need four more years. Four more years. (Applause.)

      But I want to thank your terrific Mayor, Mayor Wharton, who’s also — (applause) — and he and his wife have been amazing. And also your Congressman, Steve Cohen. (Applause.) And while Congressman Cohen couldn’t be here today, he’s been doing an outstanding job, and we are grateful for his leadership. (Applause.) And I also want to thank — yes, please. Yes, yes. (Applause.)

      And I also want to thank Beverly Robertson and Erica Thomas — there they are. (Applause.) Thank you for your wonderful remarks, firing it up, and for all your good work in the community. We are coming; we’re going to visit. We’ll get this done, and then we’ll come and do some stuff. (Laughter.)

      And, of course, I want to recognize our amazing Host Committee for making this event such a success. It is just — we couldn’t do this without you. This is an amazing turnout.

      And I also want to give a big shout-out to all the grassroots volunteers, our team leaders, our folks who are doing the work, our organizers. (Applause.) You all are the folks who are doing the hard work — making those calls, knocking on those doors. So, just keep it up. Keep it up. We will get this done.

      And finally, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today. And I know that coming out on a hot afternoon — it is the afternoon, right? I lose track of time. (Laughter.) We are in the middle of the day, right? — you all coming out; and I know you’re doing it while you have busy lives of your own. I know you all have jobs and careers you’re handling. I know that many of you have classes to attend, summer school to get through. You’ve got families to raise, kids to keep on the straight and narrow, right?

      But I also know there’s a reason why you’ve taken time out of your busy lives to be here today. And it’s not just because we support an extraordinary man -– who happens to be my husband and our President. (Applause.) I’m a little biased, but I think our President is pretty awesome. (Applause.) And we’re here not just because we want to win an election — which we do, and we will. (Applause.)

      We’re here and we’re doing all this because of the values we believe in. That’s why we’re here. We’re doing this because of the vision for this country that we all share. We’re doing this because we want all of our children to have good schools -– the kind of schools that push them, and inspire them, and prepare them for the good jobs and opportunities of the future. We want for our parents and grandparents the opportunity to retire with some dignity -– because we believe that after a lifetime of hard work, they should be able to enjoy their golden years, right? We want to restore that basic middle-class security for our families — because we believe that in America folks shouldn’t go bankrupt because someone gets sick. We believe in America that you shouldn’t lose your home because someone loses a job. We believe that responsibility should be rewarded, and hard work should pay off. And we believe that everyone should do their fair share, but play by the same rules. (Applause.)

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/28/remarks-first-lady-campaign-event

  38. White House Office Hours: The Affordable Care Act

    Erin Lindsay June 28, 2012 02:29 PM EDT

    Today, the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ensuring that hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protecting every American from the worst insurance company abuses.

    The fact of the matter is the Affordable Care Act is already helping millions of Americans just like you, by ensuring that insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men, that no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, and allowing for 6.6 million young adults to stay on their family’s plan until they’re 26.

    These are just a few of the ways the Affordable Care Act means a more secure future for millions of Americans. For a comprehensive overview of the Affordable Care Act, visit WhiteHouse.gov/HealthReform and HealthCare.gov .

    Have questions about what the Affordable Care Act means for you and your family? Today, Thursday, June 28th at 4:30 p.m. EDT, we’re holding a special session of White House Office Hours on Twitter with Jeanne Lambrew, Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy who will answer your questions.

    Here’s how it work:

    * Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat

    *Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive Twitter account

    *If you miss the live session, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/Whitehouse

    To learn more about what the Affordable Care Act means for you visit Whitehouse.gov/HealthReform , then join us for Office Hours today at 4:30 p.m. EDT with Jeanne Lambrew.

    Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse for the latest updates and more opportunities to engage.

  39. Holder: Contempt vote a ‘grave disservice’ to the country

    6/28/12 5:08 PM EDT POLITICO

    Attorney General Eric Holder blasted the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for voting to hold him in contempt on Congress, accusing them of putting politics ahead of public safety.

    “Today’s vote may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is – at base – both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people. They expect – and deserve – far better,” Holder said in a statement.

    “Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided – and politically motivated – investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety. Instead of trying to correct the problems that led to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping us find ways to better protect the brave law enforcement officers, like Agent Brian Terry, who keep us safe – they have led us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome,” Holder said.

    “Seventeen Democrats crossed the aisle to vote to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress — the first time ever that a sitting cabinet member has been found in contempt. The charges stem from a refusal by the Department of Justice to hand over certain documents regarding a botched gunrunning operation known as the Fast and Furious,” said Holder.

    • June 28, 2012

      Statement by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Today’s Contempt Vote in the U.S. House of Representatives

      At the beginning of this year, Republicans announced one of their top priorities was to investigate the Administration and to ensure that President Obama was a one-term President. Despite the major economic challenges facing the country, they talked openly about devoting taxpayer-funded, Congressional oversight resources to political purposes.

      The problem of gunwalking was a field-driven tactic that dated back to the George W. Bush Administration, and it was this Administration’s Attorney General who ended it. Attorney General Holder has said repeatedly that fighting criminal activity along the Southwest Border – including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico has been is a top priority of the Department. Eric Holder has been an excellent Attorney General and just yesterday the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee acknowledged that he had no evidence – or even the suspicion – that the Attorney General knew of the misguided tactics used in this operation.

      Yet, Republicans pushed for political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight. Over the past fourteen months, the Justice Department accommodated Congressional investigators, producing 7,600 pages of documents, and testifying at eleven Congressional hearings. In an act of good faith, this week the Administration made an additional offer which would have resulted in the Committee getting unprecedented access to documents dispelling any notion of an intent to mislead. But unfortunately, a politically-motivated agenda prevailed and instead of engaging with the President in efforts to create jobs and grow the economy, today we saw the House of Representatives perform a transparently political stunt.

  40. BREAKING: Boehner appeals DOMA cases to Supreme Court

    June 29, 2012 washingtonblade

    House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) attorneys on Friday formally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeals court decision determining the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

    Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told the Washington Blade on Friday afternoon Republicans had notified Democratic leadership that House counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

    The court ruling that was appealed was the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services. On May 31, the appellate court issued a decision that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional as a result of both cases.

    In a statement, Pelosi slammed Boehner for continuing to assert the constitutionality of DOMA, saying the appeal is a decision that will “waste more taxpayer funds to advance a position rejected by four different courts and to defend discrimination and inequality before the highest court in the land.”

    “Democrats have rejected the Republican assault on equal rights, in the courts and in Congress,” Pelosi said. “We believe there is no federal interest in denying LGBT couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to all couples married under state law. And we are confident that the Supreme Court, if it considers the case, will declare DOMA unconstitutional and relegate it to the dustbin of history once and for all.”

    Boehner’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the appeal.

    In the filing, Boehner’s attorneys present two questions to the Supreme Court: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) Whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.

    “As the First Circuit recognized, this case calls out for this Court’s review,” the filing states. “The court of appeals has invalidated a duly-enacted Act of Congress and done so even though it acknowledged both that DOMA satisfies ordinary rational basis review and does not implicate heightened scrutiny. In the established world of equal protection law that result should have been impossible.”

    The filing also cites a separation of powers issue as the result of the Obama administration no longer defending DOMA in court as it continues to enforce it and leaves the House to defend the law.

    “Only this Court can settle this matter definitively,” the filing states. “Unless and until this Court decides the question, the executive branch will continue to attack DOMA in the courts, while continuing to enforce it, thus creating more potential litigation for the House to defend. This Court and this Court alone has the power to settle this question and redirect controversy over this important national question to the democratic process.”

    For more: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/06/29/breaking-boehner-appeals-doma-cases-to-supreme-court/

  41. rainbow-flag

    Appeals court rules against Defense of Marriage Act

    10/18/12 By Terry Baynes | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

    The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now the second federal appeals court to reject part of the Defense of Marriage Act. It upheld a lower court ruling that had found a central part of the law unconstitutional.

    Appeals in several cases are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term.

    Two members of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old woman who argued that the law discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    They found that gays and lesbians are entitled to heightened protection from the courts, based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered.

    “Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public,” Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority.

    Six states have legalized same-sex marriage, including New York in 2011. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996, federal law and government programs do not recognize those marriages.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Windsor by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court in New York. Windsor is a former IBM computer programmer who married Thea Clara Spyer in Toronto, Canada, in 2007. The two were engaged in 1967.

    Spyer died in 2009 after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis, leaving all of her property to Windsor. Because the marriage was not recognized under federal law, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes, according to her lawsuit.

    Windsor’s attorneys argued that the act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

    The Obama administration said last year it considered the law unconstitutional and would no longer defend it. Instead, a group appointed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is defending the law in courts across the country.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/appeals-court-ny-rules-gay-marriage-law-unconstitutional-160159196.html

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    NBLB Come on over to my newest post

    titled: “ Affordable Care Act – Obama Cares”
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