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Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby gave assurances Friday the U.S. military is currently allowing transgender people to enlist in the military service as a result of an executive order President Biden signed reversing Trump’s transgender military.
Kirby, responding to questions from the Washington Blade during a Friday news conference, also said the forthcoming process would include developing plans to integrate transition-related care in the military health system and give the military service chiefs input without allowing them overriding the process.
When the Blade posed a question on when the Pentagon will get to full implementation of transgender military service, Kirby said in terms of enlistments “that issue is solved” and transgender civilians can enlist now.
“If you can meet all the other requirements, physical fitness and your academics, and all the other requirements to enlist in a branch of the armed forces, transgender identity will not be a bar,” Kirby said. “So today, somebody can walk in and join.”
Asked by the Blade whether a diagnosis of gender dysphoria (acknowledging the question may be splitting hairs) would be bar to service, Kirby said, “No.”
The Blade initially sought clarity on the statement regarding transgender service from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who transgender people would be allowed to “enter and serve in their self-identified gender” and “ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law” would be available.
The statement from Austin, who previously said he supported Biden’s plan to undo former President Trump’s transgender military ban, left many observers with the impression transgender enlistment and integrating transition-related care and surgeries weren’t immediately available now, but might come down the road, without offering any definitive timeline.
Kirby, however, disputed Austin’s statement lacked clarity, saying it was “pretty clear” as it pertains to enlistments.
“If an individual meets all the other fitness and academic requirements to join the military, your transgender identity will not be bar, so it was pretty clear in there that recruitment and accessions will continue,” Kirby said.
With respect to the military health system providing for transition-related care, Kirby also said Austin’s statement address the issue.
“He also talked about reversing the decision by the previous administration about not providing associated and appropriate medical assistance and care for those undergoing transition,” Kirby said.
Kirby added, however, what remains is the review process of 60 days Biden gave the Defense Department (as well as the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard) in his executive order “to come back to him with more specific implementation guidelines,” comparing to the process that led the Obama administration to begin the process of open service before Trump’s ban.
“This has been started, as you know in 2016 and then more abruptly stopped in, I think, 2018,” Kirby said. “So, a lot of that muscle memory that has been in place in 2016 was going was gone and we wanted to give the department a couple of months to get it back, and that’s what’s going on right now, and I’m sure that once we get that and we’ve been able to solidify the recommendations going forward, you will see us put out what the specific implementation on all the aspects of transgender service are.”
Biden’s executive order also provides for “consultation with the Joint Chiefs” as part of the review process. Asked by the Blade what weight they would have in the process, Kirby said, “The Joint Chiefs are also service chiefs.”
“They have significant Title X responsibilities to recruit, to retain, to train, to equip — and that’s required b law,” Kirby added. “They are the service providers to the combatant commanders, so they have a very large vote and a voice — with the service secretaries, of course — in how these polices will be implemented going forward. Again, we’re on our way here, and I think in a couple of months we’ll be ale to provide more detail.”
Challenged by the Blade on his use of the “vote,” which implies the service chiefs would be override aspect of transgender military service, Kirby indicated they wouldn’t be able to block anything and cautioned not to “read too much” into that word.
“What I meant was they have a voice in the policy-making process,” Kirby said. “They are integral. The service secretaries and the service chiefs to implementing and executing the policies that the secretary was now ordered and that will happen. We will consult with them as we move forward, and they will provide their best advice about to how to move forward.”
As previously reported by the Blade, input from the service chiefs on transgender service could be an issue because at two — Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger — went on the record about hesitancy, if not opposition, to transgender service during their Senate confirmation hearings.
Kirby, however, expressed frustration with the questioning, saying the idea the service chiefs would seek to resist the implementation of transgender service is false.
“I think you may be getting at this idea that they’re going to somehow resist, or are in not favor of, or will find a way to block or stonewall implementation, and that’s just not going to happen,” Kirby said. “That’s just not going to happen.”
At the top of the briefing, Kirby announced Austin held his first meeting with the service chiefs at the Pentagon in the room colloquially known as “The Tank.” Kirby, however, declined to comment on whether the issue of transgender service came up, citing a policy of no comment on the discussions between the secretary and the service chiefs.
Kirby said the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness is charged with leading the 60-day review. However, the position appears currently unfilled in the time after the Biden transition. The Blade has placed a followed-up in with the Pentagon on who is serving in that role.
Sheri Swokowski, a Wisconsin-based advocate for transgender military service and former U.S. Army colonel, told the Blade in response to Kirby’s remarks the Pentagon would have significant work to do in ensuring transgender service members have access to care even if it reverts back to the 2016 policy.
“After almost five years, the DOD healthcare system for transgender service members remains broken, particularly for those who require gender reassignment surgery to treat gender dysphoria,” Swokowski said. “What should be a straightforward, administrative action to obtain a funding source waiver, has delayed medically necessary care for months, and in some cases years. Wait times would have been even longer, had Congressional intervention not been requested by 79 percent of service members scheduled for surgery.”
Swokowski added an increasing number of service members have avoided the DOD process and incurred five-figure costs “in order to meet unit mission requirements and individual health care needs.”
The post DOD: Transgender enlistments able to happen now under new policy appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.
Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — El Congreso Nacional de Honduras aprobó el 28 de enero una enmienda constitucional orientada a impedir la legalización del aborto y el matrimonio entre parejas del mismo sexo.
Para que la reforma constitucional fuera posible, era
necesario el respaldo de dos tercios de los 128 diputados del Congreso
unicameral. Una vez ratificada, se necesitaría el voto de tres cuartas partes
de los congresistas para aprobar los cambios. Dicha reforma fue aprobada con 88
votos a favor, 28 en contra y siete abstenciones. Para entrar en vigor, aún
deberá ser ratificada por, al menos, 86 congresistas.
“La legislación establece lo que hemos dado en
llamar un candado constitucional, para impedir la legalización del aborto en
Honduras en los años venideros”, dijo el diputado oficialista y
vicepresidente del Congreso, Mario Pérez, durante la sesión virtual.
Para entender que ha sucedido en Honduras, es importante tener un contexto; en palabras de Indyra Mendoza, coordinadora de la Red Lésbica Cattrachas, para el año 2004 tres organizaciones de sociedad civil pidieron la personería jurídica y fue entonces que se realizó la primera lucha histórica contra la Confraternidad Evangélica de Honduras, la cual conforma un área fundamentalista religiosa del país.
“Ese mismo año aparece que gana el matrimonio igualitario en España, en el 2004; como efecto rebote de este evento, el Congreso Nacional también prohíbe el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, pues estos tienen que ser de diferente sexo y así nacidos. También si el matrimonio ha sido efectuado en otro país, no será válido”, comenta al Washington Blade Mendoza.
Cattrachas cumple en marzo tres años de haber puesto
un recurso de inconstitucionalidad por el artículo 112, todo esto apoyadas en
la opinión consultiva 24/17, “todos estos años han pasado y la Constitución
dice que no nos podemos casar, pero también no podemos adoptar, no podemos
donar sangre, no podemos tener visitas íntimas si estamos privadas o privados de
libertad, son muchas cosas las que están prohibidas para las personas LGBT en
el país”, agrega Mendoza.
El 12 de noviembre de 2020, llegan de manera virtual a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, con el caso de Vicky Hernández contra Honduras, una mujer trans asesinada durante el golpe de Estado de 2009, durante el toque de queda; su caso no fue una “ejecución extrajudicial”, porque en esa época mataron a 15 personas trans, de las cuales 11 fueron en el Valle de Sula, tanto en toques de queda o Estado de excepción, según lo expresado por Mendoza, todas con disparo en la cabeza.
Sobre el caso la CIDH resolvió que el Estado de
Honduras debía adoptar inmediatamente todas las medidas adecuadas para proteger
efectivamente los derechos a la vida, e integridad personal de los familiares
de Hernández, así como de las integrantes de Cattrachas, las cuales litigaron
“Ahora el 7 de enero del presente año, el diputado nacionalista
Mario Pérez, lanzó la iniciativa de ley como efecto rebote de que en Argentina
se aprobara el aborto el 30 de diciembre del 2020”, comenta al Blade Mendoza.
Durante la votación en el Congreso un diputado menciona
que por cuestión de forma debería de cambiarse el artículo 67 y separarse del
artículo 112, “nunca se discutió, nunca estuvo en la iniciativa de ley, nunca estuvo
en una presentación y en ninguna socialización”, externa de manera efusiva
Mendoza al referirse al hecho de ser agregado el artículo 112 en dicha
“Los argumentos relativos al aborto y al artículo 112
son totalmente inconstitucionales, pero el problema que tenemos en Honduras es
que no la sala de lo constitucional, dónde podemos hacer otro recurso de
inconstitucionalidad, no es independiente al poder en Honduras”, externa
Por su parte la ONU lamentan la enmienda contra el
aborto y contra el matrimonio igualitario, pues esto contraviene la Opinión
Consultiva 24/17 de la CIDH y el principio de progresividad y no regresión de
derechos humanos, afectando a dos colectivos tradicionalmente vulnerables:
mujeres y personas LGBTQ.
“La reforma constitucional aprobada se contrapone
a lo establecido en el artículo 373 de la Constitución hondureña, que establece
que la reforma de la ley fundamental podrá decretarse con dos terceras partes
de la totalidad de miembros del Congreso”, enfatizaron en un comunicado.
Erick Martínez, defensor de los derechos LGBTQ en
Honduras, comentó al Blade que es importante recordar que históricamente la
población de personas LGBTQ, han sido excluidas de todo marco normativo, el
cual debe basarse en derechos humanos; esto ha generado una violencia
estructural que se traduce en “vulnerabilidad social y desprotección completa a
cada persona LGTBI en el país”.
“Algo que sí es claro, es que a pesar que a Honduras
se le ha dicho que debe de abstenerse en legislar en contra de los derechos de
las personas LGTBI, la clase política no lo comprende y que lo que hace con
estos actos discriminatorios, es generar un país que no es seguro para las
personas ciudadanas que tienen una orientación sexual o expresión de género
diferente a la impuesta en la sociedad”, asegura al Blade Martínez. “Esta
decisión que tomó el Congreso Nacional el pasado mes de enero 2021, rompe todo
principio de igualdad generando mayor discriminación y se convierte en una
represión sistemática a las libertades que tenemos las personas”.
Según datos compartidos por Cattrachas, en las
resientes caravanas que partieron del país centroamericano hacia Estados
Unidos, iban aproximadamente 300 jóvenes LGBTQ, “ya no aguantamos el
fundamentalismo religioso en Honduras, es tan poderoso que manda y gobierna en
este país y es lo que siempre se ve reflejado en nuestros cuerpos; porque somos
cuerpos desechados y desechables para el Estado de Honduras”, agrega Mendoza al
“Vamos a meter un recurso de inconstitucionalidad,
aunque sabemos cómo trabaja la sala, pero igual realizaremos otras acciones
frente a la Corte IDH y la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, a la
que ya se les hizo la notificación”, finaliza Mendoza.
Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights
Climate change poses a threat to all our communities. From coastal towns and riverfront communities, to urban centers and suburban neighborhoods, the frequency and severity of storms, heat waves, droughts and wildfires is increasing. Among the other extremes of the year 2020, it was also one of the two hottest years on record, tying with 2016. The need to take bold action to both reduce the emissions that drive climate change and build resilience for an unpredictable future is critical and Pepco is committed to doing its part.
As the local electricity provider for the District of Columbia, we are connected to our customers and communities by more than just wires and recognize the role we can and must play in helping to drive actions with positive climate impact. And, while Pepco does not own power plants, we know there are actions we can take to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of our own operations, including our buildings, fleet and grid, and help our customers and communities do the same.
Pepco supports the District’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and recently launched a Climate Change Commitment aligned with this effort. Pepco’s Climate Change Commitment includes more than 20 actions to help combat the climate crisis and drive its own greenhouse gas emissions down by 70 percent over the next five years.
“Climate change is real, and we are seeing its many effects today,” notes Melissa Lavinson, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs for Pepco Holdings. “We need to take action now to ensure a clean and healthy environment for our families, our communities and future generations. And, for Pepco, it all starts with building a smarter, stronger and cleaner energy system and providing climate solutions that benefit all Washingtonians.”
The company is also exploring solutions as an energy delivery company that provides products and services to customers to enable them to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint; and as a community partner that can enable programs and initiatives to help reduce energy use, build resilience and advance clean energy technologies, like local solar, electrified transportation and battery storage.
Pepco is making land and roof space available for community solar projects to benefit limited-income customers and help the District meet its local solar goals. And, Pepco itself will switch to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity for electricity consumed in its own buildings and convert to energy-efficient lighting across its District properties by the end of 2025.
To encourage all District residents to use energy more efficiently and drive down emissions in the built environment, Pepco collaborated with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, the District Government and more than 20 environmental, business and community groups to launch #ReduceEnergyUseDC to inspire residents to save energy, save money and help flight climate change.
Pepco will also take action to create systemic changes to energy consumption and cultivate long-lasting consumer behaviors through a suite of energy efficiency programs that will be proposed to and considered by the DC Public Service Commission in 2021.
At the same time, Pepco is building out the infrastructure necessary to support greater electrification of taxis, rideshare vehicles, buses, and other vehicles in the District. Pepco, itself, will electrify half of its own passenger and medium-duty fleet by 2030. The company also offers EV charging rates to its District customers and will support an innovative pilot to electrify food trucks.
“Local energy delivery companies like Pepco are in the position to tackle climate change on a number of fronts, but we can’t do it alone,” says Lavinson. “Developing a unified approach to solve climate problems equitably, effectively and expeditiously is among the biggest challenges we face. By being a good partner and building a smarter, stronger and cleaner electric grid, we know we can be an important part of the change, and create good paying jobs for District residents, while expanding business opportunities for local businesses in the process.”
As 2021 progresses, Pepco will be making similar commitments for its Maryland operations, customers, and communities. It will be building from existing initiatives such as EVSmart, which enables electrified transportation, its award winning EmpowerMD energy efficiency programs, which helps customers save energy and money, its pending Smart Streetlights proposal and its Sustainable Community Grants program.
For more information on Pepco’s Climate Change Commitment and to track how the company is progressing toward it’s climate goals, visit: pepco.com/Climate.
The post ADVERTORIAL | Pepco’s Commitment to Our Customers and the Climate appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.
Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights
What are some of the best ways to prepare to buy property? Well, attending a homebuyer seminar is one way to get your head in the game, and also to start preparing for the tasks ahead.
One thing I find with most of my first-time buyers is that they are ready, willing, and able, but just don’t really know what to expect in the next few months. So with my first-time buyers, I try to give them a sense of what is going to happen.
First, they are going to get in touch with a lender to see what their financial state is, and if it’s not ideal, the lender can give them ideas of what to do and how to make it better. Then we are going to make a list of what they are looking for, what they want and what they don’t want in a property. Then we are going to compare that list to what is on the market.
Once we are pre-approved and ready to go, we can look at houses and decide which one is the best candidate. Do they want something that is turn-key and ready to move in? Do they mind if the home needs some renovations and are willing and able to manage those renovations? Are there 10 other people trying to buy the home and we need to come up with a competitive strategy?
The other part of attending a homebuyer seminar is that the attendee gets to ask questions of a lender. Are there programs that might help them save money on closing costs? Are there programs in this jurisdiction that will help them with their down payment? Are there ways of getting credits from the seller or the lender that will help them have less cash to close the deal? Are there tax benefits that they don’t know about?
Another part of the homebuyer seminar is to discuss what the buyer has available to them as protections in the process. To discuss the contingencies that are available, and how they apply. Also, it’s good to clarify how much cash is needed to close the deal. What is the earnest money deposit and how does that compare to the down payment?
All of this helps the first-time or even the second-time homebuyer to be more educated in their purchase and to know all the cards that could be in their hand as they make a move toward homeownership. My next homebuyer seminar will be on Feb. 9 on Zoom if you would like to attend.
Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with The Rutstein Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights