Tag: Biden

An Open Letter to Joe Biden from a Lesbian Mom

An Open Letter to Joe Biden from a Lesbian Mom

Dear President-elect Biden:

I’m writing you this open letter as you prepare to take office as president. My son was just a few months too young to vote in the last election, but watched it with great concern, for its results would directly impact him and his family. Would the next administration be one that treated our family with equality? Would it view families like ours as part of the rich fabric of American diversity or as aberrations?

Joe Biden

I’d like to think he has reason for hope. Since this is an open letter, I’ll recap one example, though I’m sure you remember: In 2012, you attended a fundraiser held at the Los Angeles home of husbands Michael Lombardo, an HBO executive, and Sonny Ward, an architect. As reported by Jo Becker in the New York Times, political strategist Chad Griffin (later head of HRC) saw you talking with the men’s two young children and was motivated to ask you your stance on marriage equality.

According to Becker, you responded: “I look at those two beautiful kids. I wish everybody could see this. All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder, no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”

You said this at a time when the Obama administration was still officially opposed to marriage equality. Some thought your remarks were a planned “trial balloon” for the issue; Becker disagreed, but said that they “inadvertently set off a chain reaction.” Either way, within weeks, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality, relating that his own daughters had friends with same-sex parents and “I know it wouldn’t dawn on them that their friends’ parents should be treated differently.”

Marriage equality didn’t hinge on these encounters alone—it was the work of thousands of people over many years—but your remarks were a turning point for the administration’s willingness to back it publicly. I hope that as president, you will continue to champion equality for all families.

I am encouraged that you have named two lesbian moms and one transgender parent to your administration: Karine Jean-Pierre as principal deputy press secretary, Pili Tobar as deputy White House communications director, and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health. And Pete Buttigieg, whom you nominated as secretary of transportation, was asked during his own presidential run if he and his husband might start a family while in the White House. “I don’t see why not,” he replied. Perhaps this might happen even as he takes on a different role.

While their work will not revolve around LGBTQ issues, I hope that their presence will continue to remind you that all parents and our children deserve equality. Despite the progress made under President Obama, that equality has been chipped away at during President Trump’s time in office. Even now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case about whether taxpayer-funded child service agencies can claim the right, on religious grounds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people, people of different faiths, and others. This would reduce the number of otherwise-eligible homes for children in need and could mean that LGBTQ youth get placed with families that don’t support their identities. That case aside, eleven states now allow child service agencies to cite their religious or moral beliefs as a reason to discriminate against someone; nine of them permit it even if the agency receives taxpayer money.

Additionally, on January 7, the day after insurrectionists stormed the capitol, the Trump administration finalized a rule that will allow foster care and adoption agencies, along with other public health and social service organizations receiving taxpayer funds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. LGBTQ populations are among the most vulnerable here. LGBTQ organizations are already suing HHS for other recent discriminatory policies; you could save everyone time and money, while helping those in need, by changing these policies as soon as possible.

To guide you, the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, a coalition of LGBTQ, civil rights, and faith organizations, has released a set of policy recommendations to set us on a renewed path towards inclusive, affirming care for LGBTQ youth and families, people of color, and people with disabilities within the child welfare system. I hope you will take these recommendations seriously.

Equity for LGBTQ families—and all families—goes beyond just child services and healthcare, however. It extends into educational policy, housing, employment practices, and even foreign policy, for we LGBTQ families exist around the world. There are no areas of your administration that will not touch us, for we are woven into the fabric of the American people.

I hope our voices (broadly speaking, not just those in your administration) are among the many you will listen to in order to guide our country forward. I am not asking you to prioritize LGBTQ families above any others, but rather to ensure that your policies include and protect us equally so that we have the same chance to thrive. The more Americans who thrive, the stronger and better our country will be as a whole.

I want the country in which my son reaches adulthood to be one of equality, justice, and compassion, not only for LGBTQ people and families, but for all. I’m sure that as a parent yourself, you know what it is like to want such good for your children. Please be the president our country—and our country’s children—need.

Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.

Biden Nominates Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, a Transgender Parent, as Assistant Secretary for Health

Biden Nominates Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, a Transgender Parent, as

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who has led the state’s COVID-19 response, as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Levine, a transgender woman, is also the parent of two grown children. Her nomination comes days after President Trump’s HHS finalized a rule that would allow schools to misgender and discriminate against transgender students. Do you sense change?

Dr. Rachel Levine

Dr. Levine currently serves as Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is leading the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Levine was confirmed three times by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state senate as secretary of health and the state’s physician general. She would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

She is the President of ASTHO, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders. She joined Governor Tom Wolf’s administration in January 2015 as the physician general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served from 2015 to 2017. She was named acting secretary of health in July 2017 and confirmed as secretary of health in March 2018. Her previous posts included: vice-chair for clinical affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Dr. Levine is also an accomplished regional and international speaker, and author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ+ medicine. She graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine, completing her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

She’s spoken often to LGBTQ groups, including a keynote address at Philadelphia Family Pride’s 6th Annual Family Matters Conference for LGBTQ parented-families in 2015.

A 2016 Washington Post profile of her related, “Levine said her children, who are now in college, were very accepting of her transition.” And of her own mother, Levine told the Post, “She said ‘I love you unconditionally and so I accept you,’ and I started to cry.” Levine’s mother “moved to Pennsylvania about seven years ago to be closer to Rachel and her children. The two dine out together multiple times a week and have a standing date for Sunday brunch.”

The Advocate reported last March that Levine was working more than 10 hours a day, seven days a week, in response to the pandemic, and told them, “I want to be judged upon my work in medicine and in public health and in this difficult time, in my work to help to protect the public health in the face of this global pandemic. It doesn’t make any difference what someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is. We’re really all in this together.”

President-elect Joe Biden said in a statement, “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic—no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability—and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond. She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added, “Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people. President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Mike Pence plans to flee country after Biden certifying vote, insiders say / Queerty

Mike Pence plans to flee country after Biden certifying vote,

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

That’s exactly what Mike Pence plans to do after Congress certifies President-elect Joe Biden’s win on January 6.

According to multiple sources, the one-term vice president will immediately depart on an extended “foreign trip” after he fulfills his constitutional duty of confirming the election’s winner.

Three U.S. officials tell Politico that Pence is planning to be gone for at least a week, possibly longer.

Pence’s aides are keeping tight-lipped about the whole thing, but Politico managed to get a copy of at least a partial itinerary that shows the outgoing veep traveling to Israel, followed by Poland, with the possibility of more stops being added in the coming weeks.

Considering that Donald Trump still refuses to concede the race and, according to CNN, has told advisors he might refuse to leave the White House on January 20, Pence having to officially acknowledge Biden as the winner is most definitely going to cause some hard feelings inside the Oval Office.

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” an insider tells Politico. “By no means is this going to be an easy moment for the vice president or president to stomach.

The trip will mark the second time since Trump’s historic loss that Pence hightailed it outta Washington, D.C. to avoid his boss’ ire and/or cash in his PTO before he’s out of a job next month.

Almost immediately after the election was called for Biden in November, Pence and his wife, Mother, jetted off to Florida for a five-day, post-election vacation getaway on Sanibel Island.

Related: Mike Pence flees D.C. as Trump fumes and coronavirus ravages the West Wing

2 Lesbian Moms of Color Named to All-Women Biden Communications Team

2 Lesbian Moms of Color Named to All-Women Biden Communications

Two—yes, two—lesbian moms of color have been named to Joe Biden’s all-women White House communications team.

Karine Jean-Pierre at BookExpo at the Javits Center in New York City, May 2019. Photo: Rhododendrites. Used under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. Pili Tobar speaking at U.S. State Department, July 2016. Image: State Department/public domain.

Karine Jean-Pierre, a veteran political organizer, commentator, and author, who served as senior advisor to President-Elect Joe Biden and chief of staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris during the campaign, will become principal deputy press secretary. She served as regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs in the Obama administration and as deputy battleground sates director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was more recently chief public affairs officer for MoveOn and an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. She is also on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

In an interview with Hollywood Life at the end of July, she spoke about her reasons for being part of the Biden campaign, saying, “I felt like this is my job as a mom to step in. I thought about my six year-old and I thought about what kind of planet or world or country are we going to be leaving to her and her peers,” adding, “I’m a Black woman, I’m a gay woman and I’m an immigrant. And Donald Trump, he is someone who hates everything I am.”

Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian parents but raised in New York City. In her 2019 book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, she writes about her unconventional path to political involvement and how and why others, no matter their backgrounds, need to step up and participate today.

Pili Tobar, who served as the communications director for coalitions on the Biden-Harris campaign, will become deputy White House communications director. She previously served as the deputy director for America’s Voice, where she advocated on behalf of immigrants. She has also served as the Hispanic media director for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and held a number of other senior communications positions. Originally from Florida and raised in Guatemala, Tobar is a graduate of the University of Miami. She lives in Washington D.C. with her wife and daughter.

They are not the first LGBTQ people to have White House communications roles. Judd Deere is currently White House deputy press secretary, and Eric Schulz held the same position in the Obama administration, the Washington Blade reminds us. As queer women of color, however, and as queer parents, they break new ground. This is not to say that all queer parents should aspire to such lofty careers. Sometimes, we need to take the job that simply puts food on the table—or to forego outside employment in order to better care for our children. At the same time, I find it inspiring to see that increasingly, queer parents who want to ascend to positions of significant national power can do so.

Other members of the Biden-Harris communications team will be Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director; Jennifer Psaki, White House press secretary; Ashley Etienne, communications director for Vice President Harris; Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokesperson for the vice president; and Elizabeth E. Alexander, communications director for First Lady Jill Biden.


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Cher pays powerful musical tribute to Joe Biden / Queerty

Cher pays powerful musical tribute to Joe Biden / Queerty

Continuing to lead the legion of stars and celebrities hoping to unseat Donald Trump next Tuesday, Cher performed a special tribute to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden.

Cher dusted off the Oscar-nominated tune Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe from the 1943 film Cabin in the Sky, part of a concert aimed at increasing turnout. The I Will Vote Concert also featured performances by John Legend, P!nk, Ben Platt, Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter, and Darren Criss. Comedian George Lopez and Ana Navarro hosted the event.

Related: Joe Biden unveils latest secret weapon: Cher

The Fab Five of the Netflix show Queer Eye (really, who better?) introduced Cher, who performed the song with retooled lyrics aimed at Biden’s experience and ability to confront the ongoing crisis facing the nation.

Have a listen, and remember to vote on November 3.

For more information about voting–including registration deadlines and polling locations–refer to the voting center on our sister website LGBTQ Nation.

Joe Biden hands Pete Buttigieg key role in making his presidency a reality

Joe Biden hands Pete Buttigieg key role in making his

Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Pete Buttigieg has been tapped to serve in a key role on the presidential transition team of his former rival Joe Biden.

Biden is currently putting together a transition team, which will lay the groundwork for him to take office in January if he triumphs over Donald Trump in the 3 November election.

Buttigieg, who exploded onto the national scene before ending his pioneering bid for president back in March, has been appointed to a 15-person advisory board for Biden’s transition team.

Joe Biden hires Pete Buttigieg for transition team role.

According to CNN, other advisory board members include former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

Former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, who will co-chair the transition team, said: “We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy. This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.

“The co-chairs, advisory board, and senior staff are a diverse group of experts who are committed to helping a possible Biden-Harris administration beat the public health crisis and put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs.”

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces he is ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president on March 1, 2020
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces he is ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president on March 1, 2020 (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Buttigieg tweeted: “The character of our country is on the ballot.”

The Indiana mayor was previously promised a key role by Biden when he dropped out in March.

Biden had said: “I did speak to Pete Buttigieg a couple of days ago to encourage him to stay engaged because he has enormous talent.

“I indicated to him that if I become the nominee, I’d come and ask him to be part of the administration, to be engaged in moving things forward.”

Former presidential candidate has been vocal in his support for Biden.

Since the election, Buttigieg has taken up an academic post at the University of Notre Dame, and has continued to stump for Biden.

Last month he gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention that touched on the presidential candidate’s history of supporting LGBT+ rights.

He explained: “Just over 10 years ago, I joined a military where firing me because of who I am wasn’t just possible – it was policy. Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire anyone because of who they are or who they love.

“The very ring on my finger – a wedding we celebrated right where I’m standing – reflects how this country can change.

‘Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible – including that of Joe Biden, who stepped out ahead of even this party when he said that marriage equality should be the law of the land.”

Biden wants and needs our vote

Biden wants and needs our vote

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden‘s campaign launched a get out the vote initiative geared toward LGBTQ voters, an initiative that was announced as Pride Month is under way. 

The campaign said the program, known as Out for Biden, is being led by a steering committee that includes Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly gay member of the Senate. 

Biden’s LGBTQ Vote Director Reggie Greer invoked the recent nationwide discussion on race in a statement announcing the launch of the initiative, saying the program would work to involve LGBTQ voters of color. 

“Our campaign’s decision to launch Out for Biden in the shadow of historic protest elevates the power of the moment and encourages deep — and sometimes difficult — dialogue within our LGBTQ+ community as Pride month begins,” Greer said.  “LGBTQ+ people of color are central to the fabric of our communities. We must elect a government that will center their voices and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”

via The Hill

Biden recognizes 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride Month

Biden recognizes 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride Month

Joe Biden issued a statement on June 1 recognizing Pride Month, saying “much work remains” to advance LGBTQ people despite the progress made after the first Pride 50 years ago in memorial of the Stonewall riots.

“Despite our progress, much work remains,” Biden wrote. “As our nation grapples with the uncomfortable truths of systemic racism, a devastating pandemic that’s claimed more than 100,000 lives in the United States and left more than 40 million people filing for unemployment, and a president that’s waged an all-out assault on the rights of our most vulnerable, including LGBTQ+ people, we are reminded of why those first brave souls took to the streets to march 50 years ago.

“Pride has come to be recognized as a global movement of love, self-expression, and community — resilient in the face of oppression and fear and hopeful for a better future,” Biden wrote. “This month, let us recommit to those principles of Pride and remain steadfast in the fight for justice and equality.”

Biden also invoked the memories of LGBTQ activists who have died in recent weeks: Larry Kramer, a gay rights pioneer and AIDS activist who founded ACT Up; Aimee Stephens, a transgender plaintiff in lawsuit before the Supreme Court that will decide whether federal civil rights law applies to LGBTQ people; and Lorena Borjas, a transgender immigrant activist.

Biden also cites the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Trump administration, such as the transgender military ban, as well as condemning Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for having “given safe harbor to white supremacists and other forms of hate.”

In contrast, Biden expresses commitment to LGBTQ legislation known as the Equality Act pending before Congress and says he’ll take “swift action to reverse” the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies.

Last week, the White House issued five proclamations from Trump designating June as Great Outdoors Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, National Homeownership Month, National Ocean Month and National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, but nothing on Pride Month.

via Washington Blade