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New White House rule would require asylum seekers to seek protection in 3rd country

Immigration Equality sharply criticized Biden-Harris administration proposal



President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Dec. 13, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — Groups that advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ and intersex immigrants have sharply criticized the Biden-Harris administration over its plans to prohibit people from asking for asylum at the Southern border if they don’t seek protection in a country through which they passed.

“The proposed rule would encourage migrants to avail themselves of lawful, safe and orderly pathways into the United States, or otherwise to seek asylum or other protection in countries through which they travel, thereby reducing reliance on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain,” reads the proposed rule the White House announced on Tuesday. “It would do so by introducing a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility for certain noncitizens who neither avail themselves of a lawful, safe and orderly pathway to the United States nor seek asylum or other protection in a country through which they travel.”

The Associated Press notes the proposed rule must go through a 30-day public comment period before it can take effect. The regulation would remain in place for two years if the administration implements it.

“The president’s proposed rule will deny asylum to thousands of otherwise eligible refugees, many of whom will be LGBTQ people,” said Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron C. Morris in a press release his organization released on Wednesday. “The rule puts into place impossible hurdles that people fleeing persecution will never be able to overcome. Additionally, a requirement that LGBTQ people apply for asylum in other countries before coming to the U.S. is misguided and blatantly contrary to federal law. Many common transit countries are extremely dangerous for LGBTQ asylum seekers, who face brutal violence, sexual assault, and murder as they flee to the U.S. for safety.”

Erin Argueta, senior lead attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, in a statement said it is “beyond disappointing that the Biden administration is moving forward with an anti-asylum policy that is copied from the cruel transit ban issued by the Trump administration.” 

“The Biden administration should not continue putting obstacles in the way of people fleeing danger and seeking safety in the United States, which will only increase harm,” said Argueta. “Instead, this administration should be strengthening the legal right to seek asylum at the U.S. border, not proposing an unworkable alternative that will only increase harm.”

The White House last month announced the expansion of the use of “expedited removal” of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Venezuelans who enter the U.S. from Mexico without legal authorization. The Biden-Harris administration also created a humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans that combines “safe, orderly and lawful pathways to the United States, including authorization to work, with significant consequences for those who fail to use those pathways.”

The U.S., as part of the aforementioned announcement, launched a U.S. Customs and Border Protection app that allows Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans to “seek advance authorization to travel to the United States and be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for temporary grant of parole for up to two years, including employment authorization” if they pass security screenings and someone in the U.S. sponsors them. The Biden administration also allows up to 30,000 “qualifying nationals” from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela to live and work in the U.S. for up to two years.

The rule the White House has proposed would require most asylum seekers to use the app to schedule an initial appointment at a port of entry.

Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic, took effect in March 2020. 

It is expected to end in May when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. The Associated Press reported the proposed rule the Biden administration announced on Tuesday would take effect at that time.

“The president must undo his predecessor’s anti-asylum policies, not expand on them. LGBTQ asylum seekers deserve a system that is equitable and accessible,” said Morris. “Their lives depend on it. The rule as proposed will almost certainly result in the senseless death of LGBTQ refugees, most of whom would otherwise find safety through asylum in the United States.”


The White House

White House condemns Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill

The 2023 anti-homosexuality bill sailed through Uganda’s parliament Tuesday with broad support from lawmakers



White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Karie Jean-Pierre spoke out on Wednesday against Ugandan lawmakers’ passage of an anti-homosexuality bill on Tuesday that threatens to further criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct along with LGBTQ and intersex populations in the country.

If the bill “is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda, and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing.

“The bill is one of the most extreme anti LGBTQI+ laws in the world,” she said, adding “human rights are universal – no one should be attacked, imprisoned or killed simply because of who they are or who they love.”

Asked what concrete steps the U.S. might explore in response to the legislation in Uganda, John Kirby — who serves as National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House and joined Jean-Pierre at the podium Wednesday — said “there might be repercussions that we would have to take.”

“We’re certainly watching this real closely,” Kirby said, noting it remains unclear whether or when the bill might become law and take effect. Punitive economic measures against Uganda could be “devastating,” he said, as America provides substantial aid to the country, including through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The 2023 anti-homosexuality bill sailed through Uganda’s parliament Tuesday with broad support from lawmakers. It would impose a 10-year prison sentence for the “promotion, recruitment, or funding” of LGBTQ activities.

According to Human Rights Watch, anyone who “holds out as a lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer, or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female” could be prosecuted and sentenced up to 10 years.

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Biden-Harris administration honors Argentina’s LGBTQ+, intersex rights envoy

Alba Rueda among International Women of Courage Award recipients



The Biden-Harris administration on March 8 honored Argentina’s special envoy for LGBTQ+ and intersex rights with an International Women of Courage Award during a White House ceremony.

A State Department press release notes Alba Rueda is one of 11 “extraordinary women from around the world who are working to build a brighter future for all.” The Biden-Harris administration honored Rueda, along with Dr. Zakira Hekmat from Afghanistan, Danièle Darlan from the Central African Republic, Doris Ríos from Costa Rica, Meaza Mohammed from Ethiopia, Hadeel Abdel Aziz from Jordan, Bakhytzhan Toregozhina from Kazakhstan, Malaysian Sen. Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, Mongolian Brigadier Gen. Bolor Ganbold, Bianka Zalewska from Poland, Yuliia Paievska from Ukraine. The “Women and Girl Protesters of Iran” received the Madeleine Albright Honorary Group Award.

“In Argentina, Alba Rueda is a Transgender woman who was kicked out of classrooms, barred for sitting for exams, refused job opportunities, subjected to violence and rejected by her family,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks during the ceremony. “But in the face of these challenges, she worked to end violence and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community in Argentina.”

First lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are among those who also spoke at the ceremony.

“As you’ll hear, these women are reporting on Russian atrocities in Ukraine. They’re fighting for equal opportunities for women and girls in Mongolia. They’re defending democracy in the Central African Republic. They’re protecting indigenous land in Costa Rica. They’re advocating for the rights of refugees, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI+ community,” said Blinken.

Rueda was a well-known activist before Argentina’s government last May named her the country’s first Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Alba Rueda, center, with Jessica Stern, the U.S. Envoy for LGBTQ+ and intersex rights, left, and Fabrizio Petri, right, Italy’s special envoy for LGBTQ and intersex rights, at the 2022 New York Pride parade. (Photo courtesy of Alba Rueda)
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White House condemns CPAC call to ‘eradicate transgenderism’

One of those bills would give the state the right to remove kids from their parents just because that kid is transgender



White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade file Photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned comments by a conservative pundit who called for the “eradication of transgenderism” during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend in suburban Maryland.

“I just want to take a step back a moment and really call out the shameful, hateful, and dangerous attacks that we have been seeing on the LGBTQI community as we’ve seen this week, as I said, and also last week,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Friday.

“Look,” she continued, “it started with a speaker at a conservative conference calling for the eradication of transgender people, language that not a single national Republican leader has condemned.”

Michael Knowles, who is associated with Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, also said during CPAC: “There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing.”

Jean-Pierre then addressed the spate of anti-LGBTQ and particularly anti-trans legislation that has been proposed by Republican legislatures throughout the country, which has become increasingly extreme:

“In Iowa and Tennessee, Republicans are now calling for legislation to attack gay marriage and protections for same-sex couples,” she said. “In Florida — just Florida alone — Republicans introduced 20 bills — 20 bills — on a single day to roll back the rights of LGBTQ community.”

Jean-Pierre then focused her comments on a bill introduced in the Florida legislature last Friday:

“One of those bills would give the state the right to remove kids from their parents just because that kid is transgender.  And just think about that.  Just think about a kid who is sitting at home in this community who is listening and hearing elected officials talking about how they want to take away their rights or how they want to even threaten their parents with felony charges for seeking healthcare for their children. “

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LGBTQ+ college students can apply for White House internship

Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces the Application Period for Fall Session of the White House Internship Program



President Joe Biden speaks to White House interns on the South Portico, Friday, December 9, 2022, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

WASHINGTON – President Biden and Vice President Harris are announcing today that the application period for the Fall session of the White House Internship Program will open on Monday, March 13th . The session will begin in September 2023.  

The White House Internship Program is a public service leadership and development program that provides emerging leaders with an opportunity to gain valuable skills while supporting the work of the White House and furthering the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration. This program provides paid internships across the Executive Office of the President. Interns participating in the White House Internship Program will support the White House Office and the Office of the Vice President. 

Program participants must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years or older before the first day of the Program, and meet at least one of the three following criteria:

  1. Currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two- to four-year institution)
  2. Graduated from an accredited undergraduate or graduate program at a college, community college, or university (two- to four-year institution) no more than two years prior to the first day of the Program
  3. A veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty, for any length of time, no more than two years prior to the first day of the Program

The application period for the Fall 2023 session will open on Monday, March 13th and close on Friday, April 9th.

Interested candidates can find the Program’s online application at The website also features additional information about the Program, including a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. 

Prospective candidates with questions about the Program, as well as college/university administrators, faculty, campus leadership, and others interested in more information to share with their communities can reach out to the White House Internship Program team at [email protected].

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World Bank’s U.S. executive director reaffirms ‘strong commitment’ to LGBTQ+, intersex people

Adriana Kugler spoke exclusively with Washington Blade on Feb. 13



Adriana Kugler, the U.S. executive director of the World Bank Group (Photo courtesy of the World Bank)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. executive director of the World Bank Group told the Washington Blade last month during an exclusive interview that she is committed to LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

“As U.S. executive director, I certainly have a strong commitment, not only representing the U.S., but myself to advocate for inclusive development to address the needs of LGBTQI persons,” said Adriana Kugler during an interview at her D.C. office on Feb. 13.

Kugler, who was born in Colombia, has been in the position since May 2022. She is the first Latina woman named to the post.

Kugler was chair and chair-elect of the American Statistical Association’s Business and Economics Statistics Section in 2020 and 2019 respectively. She from 2019-2022 was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy and was on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Technical Advisory Committee from 2016-2019. 

Kugler was a chief economist at the U.S. Labor Department from 2011-2013. She has also been a professor of public policy and economics at Georgetown University since 2010, although she is currently on leave.

2021 presidential memo committed U.S. to promoting LGBTQ+, intersex rights abroad

Kugler noted the Biden-Harris administration “have a strong commitment to promote inclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals.”

“This has been a priority,” she said, noting a number of executive orders and memorandums the administration has issued since it took office in 2021. One of them committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad as part of the White House’s overall foreign policy.

“That’s been definitely a driving force, understanding that multilateral engagement is really very important in terms of driving protections of LGBTQI persons around the world,” she said.

Kugler told the Blade one of her priorities has been to support the collection and dissemination of data that “can really help to drive support and drive demand for LGBTQ+ inclusion here at the bank.”

“That’s been one of my priorities, to support data efforts,” she said. “It has been a priority for the U.S. as well, and that has been something that I have put forward very firmly.”

Kugler last November held an “inaugural meeting with management board members and CSOs (civil society organizations) to discuss LGBTQI+ inclusion priorities.” M. V. Lee Badgett, a professor economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst who co-directs its Center for Employment Equity, at the gathering presented information that showed the economic benefits of LGBTQ+ and intersex inclusion.

“That, I think, is a driver that can really help us make the case, just the same way we did it back in the day to drive support for gender equality in the multilateral organizations,” said Kugler. “I really believe in that.”

Kugler added the meeting was held to “restart the conversation, to prioritize inclusion of LGBTQ+ people and to make sure people understand the economic case for that.”

A specific issue on which Kugler has worked is “making sure that the standards of evidence for misconduct, for cases of misconduct, are coherent with the standards of evidence that we have here in the U.S. and that we have for cases of sexual harassment, as well as for cases of sexual misconduct.”

“That’s the prepondence of the evidence standard, as opposed to the clear and convincing evidence standard that is a very high standard to meet,” said Kugler. “So we’re making sure we work towards making progress so that cases are brought forward by those who suffer from harassment and to make sure that they have a voice and have a chance to make their cases.”

Kugler said another priority “is to engage really closely with colleagues in” GLOBE, a resource group for the World Bank’s LGBTQ+ and intersex employees. Kugler said a key priority “is to support, especially those LGBTQ staff who work abroad, either in those situations where being LGBTQ is criminalized, or where its a very unfriendly environment, even when it’s not criminalized.”

She told the Blade that it is important to ensure the World Bank “offers protections” for LGBTQ+ and intersex employees in countries with anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-intersex rights records. Kugler also said that it is particularly important to offer same-sex spouses and partners the opportunity to access jobs through World Bank offices and local staff in places where they would not be able to work elsewhere and to train local staff on LGBTQ+ and intersex issues to provide a safe workplace.

An example of an LGBTQ+-inclusive project the board recently approved is the World Bank International Finance Corporation’s $275 million loan to Banco Davivienda in Colombia, which provides funding for advisory services to LGBTQ+ and intersex people and for the design of LGBTQ+ and intersex banking products.

The Colombian Congress in Bogotá, Colombia. The World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation’s $275 million loan to Banco Davivienda in Colombia provides funding for advisory services to LGBTQ and intersex people and for the design of LGBTQ and intersex banking products. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The World Bank’s EQOSOGI Project has already collected LGBTQ+- and intersex-specific data on legal gaps as well as practices that impact LGBTQ+ and intersex people in 16 countries, and it aims to expand its coverage to more countries in 2024. The EQOSOGI Project is also expanding its research to quantify the economic costs of excluding LGBTQ+ and intersex people, starting with Serbia and North Macedonia.

“We know the queer community is suffering very adverse consequences there, and it makes sense to have a legal mapping to understand the conditions on the ground that the queer community faces and to make sure that we protect — and at least — recommend anti-discriminatory practices,” said Kugler. 

She added she asks questions to her fellow board members “as far as standards and protections for projects in those contexts where the LGBTQI community is criminalized, so that we are sure that those communities have a voice when the bank comes in, if anything goes wrong.”

“We are very strong on that,” said Kugler. “We will continue to support communities and all communities, including the queer community, to be heard if anything goes wrong so that we can make sure that they are widely protected.”

“This will also send a message to these countries that at some point they have to start considering legal changes,” she added. “It starts with raising the issue in front of the rest of the board, all of the world, that these issues of inclusion should be lifted up and they need to be rethinking their legal framework.”

Then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in 2014 postponed a $90 million loan to the Ugandan government in response to President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposed a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. 

The Ugandan Constitutional Court later struck down the “Kill the Gays” law on a technicality, but Kim’s decision to postpone the loan without first consulting the World Bank’s board sparked widespread criticism among board members. Advocacy groups had asked the World Bank not to fund future projects in Uganda, but they did not ask for the cancellation of existing loans.

“We are all very aware of the Uganda case that went wrong,” Kugler told the Blade.

“We’re absolutely firm as part of the World Bank Group’s work and as the U.S. chair that we will protect anybody, to make sure that our projects not only do more good than bad, but that they actually do no harm,” she added. “They shouldn’t be harming communities and they should certainly not be harming LGBTQI communities around the world.”

Kugler acknowledged the World Bank still does not have LGBTQ+-specific safeguards, but she added it “is something that is still being discussed.”

The Treasury Department last May endorsed an LGBTQ+-specific Asian Development Bank safeguard. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is among the organizations that have also backed it.

Chantale Wong, the U.S. director of the Asian Development Bank who is the first openly lesbian American ambassador, last fall told the Blade the Biden-Harris administration continues to push for the Philippines-based ADB to implement the safeguards. Kugler — who described Wong as “an amazing advocate” — noted the World Bank will soon release its new Gender Strategy that will include a nonbinary approach to gender.

“It is helpful when the CSO community engages in these processes, because they help us to lift up these issues with the management of the bank as well,” said Kugler.

“The voices from outside help put pressure … on the countries themselves and how the board proceeds,” she added.  

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Biden travels to Kyiv

Friday marks a year since Russia launched its war against country



President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 20, 2023. (Public domain photo via White House/Twitter)

KYIV, Ukraine — President Joe Biden on Monday met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his country’s capital.

“Today, President Biden is in Kyiv to reaffirm America’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the White House in a tweet that included pictures of Biden and Zelenskyy. “The United States of America will stand with the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes.”

“Today in Kyiv, President Biden announced a new delivery of critical equipment for Ukraine,” said the White House in another tweet. “This package includes artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments.”

Friday marks a year since Russia launched its war against Ukraine.

Zelenskyy in December visited Biden at the White House and spoke to Congress.

Zelenskyy in 2021 pledged Ukraine would continue to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity after he met with Biden at the White House. 

Zelenskyy last summer said he supports a civil partnerships law for same-sex couples. Ukrainian lawmakers late last year unanimously approved a media regulation bill that will ban hate speech and incitement based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Zelenskyy, a former actor and comedian, last month made a broad reference to LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in a virtual Golden Globes appearance. Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova during a Jan. 26 event in D.C. that highlighted Ukrainian LGBTQ+ servicemembers applauded Kyiv Pride and other LGBTQ+ and intersex rights groups in her country.

“Thank you for everything you do in Kyiv, and thank you for everything that you do in order to fight the discrimination that still is somewhere in Ukraine,” said Markarova. “Not everything is perfect yet, but you know, I think we are moving in the right direction. And we together will not only fight the external enemy, but also will see equality.”

Helen Globa, co-founder of Tergo, a support group for parents and friends of LGBTQ+ and intersex Ukrainians, on Monday told the Washington Blade from her home in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha that she welcomes Biden’s visit.

“We think he rocks,” said Globa. “America should be proud of their brave and wise leader.”

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New executive order recommits Biden admin to fight for equity

There’s a timeliness of the new executive order as Republican state legislators have issued a record breaking number of anti-LGBTQ bills



President Joe Biden (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed a sweeping Executive Order on Thursday that recommits his administration to the fight for racial equity and support for underserved communities that were central to Executive Order 13985, the policy the president signed on his first day in office.

Both executive orders are broad in scope and detailed in practice, demanding a “whole of government approach” to root out and remedy the systemic racism that is baked into American institutions, including the federal government.

In a fact sheet accompanying Thursday’s Executive Order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government, the White House said that despite progress under the Biden-Harris administration over the last two years, “underserved communities—many of whom have endured generations of discrimination and disinvestment—still confront unacceptable barriers to equal opportunity and the American Dream.”

The White House further notes in the new executive order that its mandate is complemented by Executive Order 14035 of June 25, 2021 (“Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce”).

The document includes mention of historic achievements for LGBTQ Americans during the Biden-Harris administration:

“We have taken historic steps to advance full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans, including by ending the ban on transgender service members in our military; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics across Federal programs; and signing into law the Respect for Marriage Act (Public Law 117-228) to preserve protections for the rights of same-sex and interracial couples.

My Administration is also implementing the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to realize their full potential.”

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Chiraag Bains, Biden’s deputy assistant for racial justice and equity, said “this is about racial equity, but it is about equity more broadly as well, and that includes for LGBTQI+ Americans as well.”

Bains noted the timeliness of the new executive order as Republican state legislators have issued a record breaking number of anti-LGBTQ bills, overwhelmingly targeting the transgender community.

He acknowledged these matters are “a matter of life and death,” pointing to the shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ Colorado Springs nightclub, last November.

Thursday’s executive order also stipulates that “in September 2023, and on an annual basis thereafter, concurrent with the agencies’ submission to [the Office of Management and Budget] for the President’s Budget, agency heads shall submit an Equity Action Plan to the Steering Committee.”

Among the equity action plans will be one to “include actions to advance equity” pursuant to June 2022’s Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals.  

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Ben LaBolt: Named first gay White House communications director

LaBolt served on past presidential campaigns & recently headed the communications team for the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson



Ben LaBolt, Obama-Biden campaign national press secretary in 2012 (Screenshot/C-SPAN)

WASHINGTON – The White House announced Friday that Ben LaBolt will become the first openly gay White House communications director, succeeding Kate Bedingfield, who is expected to leave at the end of February.

Bedingfield is expected to work on Biden’s upcoming reelection campaign although the president has yet to announce his intentions to seek another term in office. Her leaving the White House communications post comes shortly after White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and the president’s top economic advisor Brian Deese announced their departures from the White House.

Bedingfield, who served as then-Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director in 2015-2016 and then as Deputy Campaign Manager for his successful 2020 presidential race, “has played an integral role in the successes of the first two years of the Biden-Harris Administration, from the American Rescue Plan through the Inflation Reduction Act,” the White House announcement stated.

LaBolt comes with extensive political experience having served on 3 past presidential campaigns, including as a senior national spokesperson for Obama-Biden in 2008 and as the Obama-Biden campaign national press secretary in 2012.

Ben LaBolt (Photo courtesy of Bully Pulpit Interactive)

LaBolt also has congressional experience in both chambers, as the communications director for Sherrod Brown’s first election to the Senate in 2006, the press secretary for Rep. Jan Schakowsky and, in 2007, the Senate press secretary for then-Senator Barack Obama.

LaBolt served as the head of communications for the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and also served during the Biden-Harris transition as an advisor on nominations.

LaBolt is currently a partner at the Washington D.C. communications firm Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), where he leads a communications and marketing agency with over 200 staff and offices across the country that specializes in integrating strategic communications and digital marketing strategies to reach and persuade people on the platforms where they consume information.

On Twitter Bully Pulpit congratulated LaBolt:

 LaBolt is a native of La Grange, Illinois, and an alumnus of Middlebury College. He is making history as the first openly gay White House communications director.

The White House released a statement from President Biden thanking Bedingfield and welcoming LaBolt to his administration:

“Since my time as Vice President, Kate has been a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin,” said President Biden. “She was a critical strategic voice from the very first day of my presidential campaign in 2019 and has been a key part of advancing my agenda in the White House. The country is better off as a result of her hard work and I’m so grateful to her – and to her husband and two young children – for giving so much. Ben has big shoes to fill. I look forward to welcoming him back as a first-rate communicator who’s shown his commitment to public service again and again, and who has a cutting-edge understanding of how Americans consume information. I saw him fight for Justice Jackson, and he put his all into helping us make history confirming our cabinet and subcabinet nominees. I’m proud to have him rejoin this team.”

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Biden’s second State of the Union prioritizes bipartisanship

“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress”



President Joe Biden delivers his 2023 State of the Union address (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday focused on building upon recent accomplishments, especially legislative milestones that were reached with bipartisan cooperation.

Nevertheless, the speech was met with vocal objections from Republican lawmakers over Biden’s comments about the debt ceiling and mention of some GOP members’ plans to cut social security and Medicare.

“From reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, to the Electoral Count Reform Act, to the Respect for Marriage Act that protects the right to marry the person you love,” Biden said, “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress.”

On the subject of legislation, for the second year in a row, Biden repeated his plea for Congress to revisit the Equality Act “to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity.”

He also focused part of Tuesday’s address on public health. “Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, we undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” Biden said.

The successful effort should be repeated in the fight against cancer, he added.

These matters aside, Biden included little mention of LGBTQ issues, or the extremism of Republicans who are poised to run for the presidency next year. Instead, the bulk of his remarks were focused on themes like implementing the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The country’s economic recovery was another well-trod message, on the heels of a January jobs report whose data showed record low unemployment and steady growth in new jobs and workers’ wages.

Biden did devote some time to reproductive justice. “The Vice President and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient privacy,” he said. “But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans.”

The president then vowed to veto a national abortion ban if Congress should pass one.

During last year’s State of the Union, Biden said “The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is wrong,” adding, “As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your President, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”

One sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community this year was the invitation of Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith, plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case that led the state to become the first to legalize same-sex marriage, to join First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s box.

And House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) brought Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson as his guest. Biden honored the former House Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as “someone who I think will be considered the greatest Speaker in the history of this country.”

President Biden delivers 2023 State of the Union address:

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Doug Emhoff visits memorial to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz



The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BERLIN — Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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