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Hillary Clinton’s Vision for America a Sharp Contrast to Tea Party Congress

November 9, 2014

As recriminations continue over whose fault it is that Democrats lost the Senate one potential positive is Hillary Rodham Clinton will be able to run full-out against the ultra-conservative Congress.

When as many believe she will announce her candidacy for President in the beginning of 2015 she will be helped by the likes of senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the current incarnation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy (D-WI),  who was quoted in the Washington Post saying “The first order of business should be a series of hearings on President Obama, looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.”  The Post went on to write “When Cruz was asked if he would back Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for Republican leader, Cruz would not pledge his support — an indication that there are limits to how much of a partner he’s willing to be.”

When Hillary Clinton lays out her vision for America it will be in sharp contrast to what Republican members of Congress believe. Her vision will include full and equal participation by women in every part of American society; and an immigration policy that lays out a path for citizenship for those already here and allows their children to be educated. Her vision will include rebuilding America’s infrastructure and providing decent high paying jobs for all Americans. It will include ensuring a strong and robust foreign policy that uses all the tools available to a President, from diplomacy and economic sanctions to understanding that having the best military in the world is a deterrent but that a President must be willing to use it as a last resort if all else fails. Her vision will include ensuring that every child has the chance to grow up and reach their full potential and her vision for America includes ensuring that everyone including women, minorities and LGBT Americans have their full civil and human rights.

That vision will be in sharp contrast to Republicans of all stripes in both houses of Congress who will be offering hearings and recriminations instead of the action voters want. They will be offering ‘personhood’ amendments and trying to take away healthcare from millions of Americans who now have it through the Affordable Care Act. Americans will hear Hillary’s vision and then see that their representatives in Washington aren’t able to work together and are failing to solve issues such as immigration, raising the minimum wage, ensuring affordable healthcare for all Americans, and guaranteeing that our veterans, the brave men and women who fought for our nation, are taken care of. Voters will see a Congress continuing to try to give tax breaks to the rich instead of working to ensure that Medicare and Social Security are viable far into the future for them and their children. They will contrast Hillary’s vision for the nation with what Congress is doing, or not doing, and come to the conclusion that the new Republican majority isn’t focused on the things that will make their lives better and the bloom will be off the rose very quickly.

Many are confident that rational people understand while there was a Republican wave there still aren’t enough Tea Party votes to override a Presidential veto and no ultra-conservative legislation will become law. Republicans will end up getting the blame for continuing the stalemate in Washington and 2016 when Republicans will have to defend 24 seats in the Senate and Democrats only 10 will have a different outcome.

So ready-or-not the 2016 Presidential campaign officially began on November 5, 2014. In less than three months the year-long speculation about whether or not Hillary will run will come to an end.

If Hillary announces she begins with an advantage far surpassing anything people thought she had in 2008 when she first ran. Today there is no other candidate like Barack Obama waiting in the wings. Those trying to turn Elizabeth Warren into that candidate are stymied because she is a very smart woman and realizes she isn’t ready and can’t win. She has an important message which we must heed and is a good Senator with the potential to become a great one.

The Ready for HillaryPAC which is continuing to raise moneyto expand the package they will turn over to Hillary’s campaign provides the kind of head start that no candidate has ever had. They have nearly 3 million current email addresses of supporters across the nation, thousands in every state, and a list of 100,000 active donors, with new donors and emails being added daily. There has never been anything like it in the history of politics and Hillary can thank Adam Parkhomenko and Allida Black who founded the organization for the incredible advantage she will have when she jumps into the race.

There are millions of people Ready for Hillary who believe she will shortly say she is ready to answer their call and begin the journey that will result in her being inaugurated the nation’s 45th and first woman President of the United States on January 20, 2017.

This column was first published in the Huffington Post.

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Bill Clinton Strikes the Right Note at HRC Dinner

October 29, 2014

Yeardley Smith (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Yeardley Smith

Over the years it has become harder for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to top their previous national dinners with both entertainment and a keynote speaker. But last Saturday evening they did just that.

Over 3,400 people gathered at the Walter Washington Convention Center in the District of Columbia to celebrate the progress made by the LGBT community in the past year and to recommit to continue the fight for full civil and human rights.

The first speaker was Eric Holder, the retiring attorney general, who spoke of his and the Obama Administration’s commitment to the LGBT community and said, “I will continue to stand with you wherever I am”. Then Yeardley Smith, best known as the voice off Lisa Simpson in the Simpsons, introduced a film on HRC which spoke to the new initiative they have begun in the South and their expanded work around the world. HRC’s President Chad Griffin then spoke eloquently as he always does about how far we have come and how difficult the road ahead will be. He committed HRC to lead the fight in Congress for the LGBT Equality Act, first introduced by Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) in 1974. It goes well beyond ENDA and would guarantee the LGBT community their rights not just with regard to employment but in housing, public accommodations and the full spectrum of other federal rights.

David Furnish and Elton John (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) David Furnish and Elton John

Griffin, who grew up in Hope, Arkansas, introduced the keynoter for the evening, former President Bill Clinton. Clinton got a rousing standing reception. While there are still a few in the community who will never forgive him signing DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it was clear that those in the room who represent the overwhelming feeling in the community understand that was a different time and that today Bill Clinton is someone who will not only stand up for but will speak out for our community across the globe.

Chad Griffin and his parents (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Chad Griffin and his parents

Clinton reminded people it had been seventeen years since he last spoke at an HRC dinner and of the extraordinary gains made since then. He hailed HRC and all the activists who have pushed open the door to gain civil and human rights for the LGBT community. He quoted former New York Governor Mario Cuomo who said “We campaign in poetry but govern in prose” and said HRC needs to do both to not only gain our rights legally but then ensure that they are fully implemented. He got a rousing cheer when he joked about how much he loves the initials HRC. Clinton spoke about countries like Uganda where he has worked to make great strides against HIV/AIDS through his foundation working with the Elton John Foundation and the Gates Foundation and yet because of the politics there gay people are often still afraid for their lives. He spoke of how countries around the world now understand how interconnected we are yet haven’t learnt how to live together. He spoke of how important it is for the United States to live up to its responsibilities in the area of human rights so that others can see us as a beacon of what is right. He ended his speech to a rousing standing ovation and said “he hopes that he will be alive and asked to come back seventeen years from now to celebrate all the advances that the LGBT community will have made by then both here and around the world”.

Marshall Sanders and Tim Gold (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Marshall Sanders and Tim Gold

After dinner Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish were honored for their work in the fight against HIV/AIDS and for being symbols to the world of how far we can go if we are dedicated to the fight. Jennifer Hudson sang and brought down the house with all 3,400 on their feet.

The dinner attracts people from around the nation which this year included Judge Vaughn Walker who wrote the stellar opinion in the Proposition 8 Case and Ambassador Andrew Young who has spent an illustrious career fighting for civil rights. Then there are the local attendees like David Perruzza manager of JRs and his husband Richard Paules of Paules Landscaping LLC; Josh Levie of JELCreative and his friend Matt Sokolowski and Marshall Sanders one of the nation’s premier yoga instructors with a friend Tim Gold, CEO and President, Velvet Foundation. It was another great evening for the community and the largest LGBT rights organization in the world.

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2014 Walk to End HIV

October 27, 2014

The crowd (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) The crowd

On a beautiful Saturday morning thousands participated in what was formally called AIDS Walk but this year became the Walk to End HIV. The name change is an indication of how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Today we know how to keep people from getting sick and how to keep those who are alive. We are making tremendous progress toward ending this epidemic altogether.

Mayor Vince Gray and Councilwoman Yvette Alexander (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Mayor Vince Gray and Councilwoman Yvette Alexander

But even with this progress much money is still needed to ensure that we can provide the needed care for those already ill and educate everyone else on how to avoid becoming sick. There is new medication like Truvada that can stop the disease from spreading but it can cost $1,000 a month or more for a person to take. So by whatever name we call the Walk the need to join in to raise funds continues.

Whitman Walker Health (WWH) which sponsors the walk has been a leader in fighting HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia for decades. The first DC AIDS Walk was held in 1987. This 28th Walk was another success with thousands of people coming out to participate in the walk and the 5k run that was held with it.

Matt Thorn and Courtney R. Snowden (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Matt Thorn and Courtney R. Snowden

The program prior to the run/walk was mc’d by TV News 4 anchors’ Eun Yang and Aaron Gilchrist, two members of the community who give unstintingly of their time to make a difference.  Mayor Vincent Gray addressed the crowd and spoke of how far we have come and how much is still to be done. Gray has been up-front in this fight since he headed the Social Services Administration long before he ever ran for office. Then as a member of the Council, Chair of the Council and now Mayor he has done more than any other politician in the city to make sure that there are funds available for both treatment and education. He has been a champion in this fight. The Executive Director of WWH, Don Blanchon, spoke of the people who are impacted by HIV/AIDS and the work of WWH. Blanchon has taken WWH from an organization that often ran in the red to a stable organization running in the black and one that people know they can count on for years to come.

TV News 4 Anchors Aaron Gilchrist and Eun Yang (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) TV News 4 Anchors Aaron Gilchrist and Eun Yang

Those holding up the banner in front of the marchers and helping to kick of the walk along with Gray and Blanchon were councilmembers David Grosso and Yvette Alexander. Also seen in the crowd was Council-at-large candidate Courtney R. Snowden.

As we walk year after year as a community we should be proud of the progress we are making in fighting this disease. But we can’t be satisfied until there is a year when there is not one new case of HIV in our city. Until then we will keep walking.

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