Wednesday, December 14, 2022

LGBTQ youth need a safe nation (Dr. Jessie Pocock)

Dr. Jessie Pocock testified at today's Congressional hearing (House Oversight and Reform Committee.  She is with Inside Out Youth Services.  I have not heard of them before.  

In the hearing, Dr. Pocock noted:

It is not okay that we expect more maturity and compassion from our youth than the public servants entrusted with their care.  Daily, our staff sit with youth experiencing suicidal thoughts who are impacted by these types of harmful and inaccurate messages. It is not the fact these youths are LGBTQ that puts them at risk.  It's the way our culture views them. Their mental health is impacted when politicians legislate away their rights, when they witness unmitigated hate speech on social media.  This is not normal.  This is not okay.  These are kids.

There's a lot in the hearing worth noting but, for whatever reason, that resonated the most to me.  As the mother of eight children, one of whom is gay, that really resonated with me.

It's an important hearing.  I was at work and my son Mike texted me asking if he could post the live link to it here (he'd already posted it at his own site).  Of course and I also told him to go ahead and do that anytime he wants.  

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

Wednesday, December 14, 2022.  In the Kurdistan some women are setting themselves on fire, in the US Joe Biden takes part in history (even if the White House staff bungles it) and much more.

Yesterday, US President Joe Biden signed The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  The White House issued the following statement:

On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the President signed into law:

H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which establishes statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages and repeals provisions of law that once prevented any State or territory from being required to give effect to a same-sex marriage from another State or territory.

Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Nadler, Cicilline, and Davids, Leader Schumer, Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis, Feinstein, and Booker, and many others for their leadership.

Leave it to the White House to mess that up.  This was a time to quote Joe.

A few outlets do, for a minute or two, they say Joe declared, "For most of our nation’s history, we denied interracial couples and same sex couples from these protections. We failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect. And now, law requires that interracial marriage and same sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation."  That's really not an accurate quote but NPR and others are running with it.  What he said should have been in the statement that the White House released.

Was the communications team too busy chatting with a celebrity (one who, Marcia noted, wanted to thank people for the passage of the act but couldn't think of one gay person to thank)?  This is embarrassing, the White House needs to get its act together.  Yes, it's very good that the spokesperson had a talking to by legal and, yes, she stuck to her lane yesterday (even noting the Hatch Act all by herself).  But this was a historic moment and Joe's remarks needed to be noted.  The White House staff failed him. 

This was going to be the snapshot where we could just note some good work done by Joe.  Instead, we have to note that the tiny statement above, in bold, issued by the White House (a) isn't enough and (b) is so poorly written that when it appears to be a quote (after the colon in bold), it's not really a quote.  They bungled everything.

Joe has his problems and issues and we note them frequently here.  But this was Joe's moment to shine -- and he did -- and he's let down by the people working at the White House.  How very sad.

Let's note some of what Joe said:

Hello, hello, hello.  Today's a good day.  A day America takes a final step towards equality, towards liberty and justice -- not just for some but for everyone. Everyone.  Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity and love are recognized, honored and protected.  Today, I sign The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  Deciding whether to marry, who to marry is one of the most profound decisions a person can make.  And as I've said before -- and some of you might remember on a certain TV show ten years ago [NBC's MEET THE PRESS] -- I got in trouble -- marriage, I mean this with all my heart, marriage is a simple proposition -- who do you love and will you be loyal to that person you love.  It's not more complicated than that.  And the law recognizes that everyone should have the right to answer those questions for themselves without the government interference.  It also secures the federal rights, protections, that come with marriage -- like when you're loved one gets sick and you're legally recognized as the next of kin.  For most of our nation's history, we denied interracial couples and same sex couples from these protections. We failed -- we failed to treat them with an equal dignity and respect. And now, the law requires interracial marriage and same sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation.  I want to thank all of you for being here today, for being part of this important movement.  


MONTANARO: Our latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which is going to be released Thursday, shows 68% are in favor of same-sex marriage. You know, it was still a bit of a surprise. I have to say, though, that the bill got through because it wasn't clear they could get the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster because Republicans really have been much slower to embrace same-sex marriage. But a dozen Republican senators voted for it, 39 Republicans in the House did, too. And it's really reflective of how the country, even Republicans, are changing, even though GOP support, you know, has been much less in our surveys, less than a majority.

SHAPIRO: All right. We've been describing this as now a law that protects same-sex and interracial marriage. Beyond that top line, explain exactly what it does and does not do.

MONTANARO: Yeah. Not everyone's celebrating this as the be all, end all - and it's not. You know, this was largely passed because of the threat that the conservative supermajority at the Supreme Court after the Dobbs ruling that took away the right to an abortion, you know, could overturn other rights, including same-sex marriage. You know, while this bill gives federal benefits to same-sex couples, make sure those marriages are recognized across state lines, it doesn't guarantee that states won't deny marriage licenses to gay couples again if the court overturns it. You know, and I have to say, one of the most overlooked things in this bill, you know, isn't just about same-sex marriage, but also interracial marriages. Easy to overlook because 94% in the latest polling say they approve, but majorities didn't approve until the late 1990s, which isn't that long ago for some of us.

Now let's move over to Iraq where AFP reports 3 Iraqi soldiers have been killed by a roadside bomb 20 miles outside of Baghdad. MEHR NEWS AGENCY reports:

On Tuesday evening, a heavy gunfire was reported in the US military base at the US Embassy in Baghdad, known as "Unit 3".

The shooting was reported as eyewitnesses had earlier announced the flight of as US military helicopter over Baghdad's Green Zone.

The shooting, the details of which are still unknown, happened in the area of the US military base located in the US Embassy inside the security and protected Green Zone of Baghdad, and some Iraqi sources, such as Sabereen News Telegram channel embarked on broadcasting its video clips.

Staying on the topic of violence, we'll note this from BBC NEWS.

Women in Iraq are facing rising levels of domestic abuse. Cases of gender-based violence have seen a surge of 125% between 2020 and 2021, according to the United Nations.

In the Kurdistan region, women who feel trapped in abusive households often see suicide by self-immolation as their only way out.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has tried to combat violence against women, but many remain at risk.

The BBC has been granted rare access to one of the main hospitals for burns in Iraqi Kurdistan, where many women die of self-inflicted burns.

Meanwhile, the persecution of the LGBTQ community in Iraq continues.  THE SIASET DAILY notes:

The Iraqi Parliament recently drafted a law to ban publications regarding queer issues. This has alarmed the members of the LGBTQ+ community in the country.

The law would punish anyone who would for any reason “publish or promote” homosexuality in state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, social media platforms, books, cinemas, theatres, publications, and in public.

On December 3, 25 MPs, mostly from Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes influential cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is also Shia, signed a bill proposing the criminalisation of all publishing on LGBTQ+ topics in Iraq.

Individual citizens could be fined one million Iraqi dinars ($685), while government agencies and companies could be fined millions more. 

In the US today, US House Rep Carolyn Maloney will chair a hearing about the rise of violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community in the US:

     Dec 12, 2022
Press Release
New Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub Shooting Survivor Brandon Wolf Also Slated to Testify  

Washington D.C. (December 12, 2022)—On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will hold a hearing to examine how the surge of anti-LGBTQI+ policies advanced by Republican lawmakers and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric are fueling a rise in violence against LGBTQI+ people in the United States.  The Committee will hear firsthand testimony from individuals impacted by this violence, including survivors of last month’s mass shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQI+ nightclub Club Q that took the lives of five people.


“From Colorado Springs to my own district in New York City, communities across the country are facing a terrifying rise of anti-LGBTQI+ violence and extremism,” said Chairwoman Maloney.   “I am deeply grateful that survivors of these attacks are coming before my Committee to share their stories with the American people.  Make no mistake, the rise in anti-LGBTQI+ extremism and the despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing to attack the health and safety of LGBTQI+ people are harming the LGBTQI+ community and contributing to tragedies like what we saw at Club Q.  Next week, Republicans on my Committee and across the country will be forced to face the real-life impact of their dangerous agenda.  I hope LGBTQI+ individuals across the country will see that Democrats in Congress are fighting for them and will continue to push for policies that protect and expand their ability to live authentically and safely.”


On November 19, 2022, a shooter armed with an AR-15 style rifle opened fire on patrons and staff of the LGBTQI+ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five people and injuring more than a dozen others.


The Club Q shooting comes as extremist, right-wing lawmakers at every level of government have advanced harmful policies that undermine the ability of LGBTQI+ people to live authentically.  In 2021 alone, state legislators introduced more than 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation, including many that target LGBTQI+ people in classroom settings and health care. 


Following the passage of Florida’s anti-LGBTQI+ “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law in March, vitriolic social media content alleging that members of the LGBTQI+ community were “groomers” skyrocketed by more than 400%.  Since 2015, hate crimes have increased by 40%, with the last two years being the deadliest on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.




Full Committee hearing entitled “The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States.” 



Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET




Panel I

Michael Anderson

Survivor of Club Q Shooting


James Slaugh

Survivor of Club Q Shooting


Matthew Haynes
Founding Owner of Club Q




Kelley Robinson


Human Rights Campaign


Brandon Wolf

Survivor of Pulse Nightclub Shooting


Olivia Hunt

Policy Director

National Center for Transgender Equality


Jessie Pocock

CEO & Executive Director

Inside Out Youth Services


Ilan Meyer

Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy

The Williams Institute


Additional Witnesses to be Announced.



A livestream will be available on YouTube and the Committee on Oversight and Reform website.  




Seating in the hearing room is limited and as a result, credentialed media must RSVP to the Oversight Committee Democrats Press Office at no later than 5 p.m. ET on December 13, 2022. 



We'll wind down with this  from Will Lehman's campaign:

The following sites updated: