Showing posts with label US Gay Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Gay Politics. Show all posts

December 14, 2018

Now That He is Leaving Sen.Orrin Hatch Asks Religious Conservatives to Find Common Ground With LGBT





By Eugene ScottEugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was previously a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics

President Trump won praise from some gay Americans for being the first Republican nominee to acknowledge gay Americans in his party acceptance speech.

While promising to be tough on terrorists in 2016, Trump said: “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. To protect us from terrorism, we need to focus on three things.”

But overall, the Republican Party has failed to win the support of LGBT Americans for years, in part because of its positions on same-sex marriage and related issues. And since Trump entered the White House, he has advocated many policies viewed as anti-LGBT.

The GOP’s lack of popularity with gay Americans was no exception in 2018. The “Rainbow Wave” saw a record-breaking number of LGBT Americans elected thanks to the support of Democrats.


But in his farewell speech on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), a conservative Christian and Mormon, said that this does not have to be the case.

Hatch called on his party members to find some common ground toward advocating for the best interests of those who prioritize religious liberty and those who fight for LGBT rights.

Hatch said Wednesday:

“Nowhere is the pluralist approach more needed than in the fraught relationship between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights. . . . Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. It deserves the very highest protection our country can provide. At the same time, it’s also important to an account of other interests as well — especially those of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Pluralism shows us a better way. It shows us that protecting religious liberty and preserving the rights of LGBTQ individuals are not mutually exclusive. I believe we can find substantial common ground on these issues that will enable us to both safeguards the ability of religious individuals to live their faith and protect LGBTQ individuals from invidious discrimination.”


Hatch pointed to the passage of the “Utah Compromise,” a bipartisan anti-discrimination law that he said strengthened religious freedom and protected LGBT Americans from discrimination, and argued that it could be replicated at the federal level and be a unifying piece of legislation that honors the diversity of Americans.

But it is not clear that the base of Hatch’s party is as interested in finding common ground between conservative Christians and LGBT Americans as the retiring lawmaker is.

The GOP has been home to white evangelicals since the election of President Ronald Reagan. And in addition to winning white evangelicals, Trump won the support of most white Protestant Christians and white Catholics. No group supports the GOP more than white evangelicals, as the 2018 midterm election exit polls showed. And no group is less supportive of same-sex marriage and the advancement of LGBT rights than white evangelicals, according to the Public Religion and Research Institute.

The number of Republicans overall who are sympathetic to the challenges gay Americans face — as Hatch noted, there is no federal legislation protecting Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation — may not be significant enough to heed Hatch’s request.

But as acceptance of LGBT Americans becomes more prevalent — especially among millennials, the youngest generation of voters — the push to have Republicans, including conservative Christians, become more supportive of gay rights could pick up speed. The fact that the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history devoted part of his final address to the upper chamber to the issue could suggest that some older conservative lawmakers think the next generation of leaders could right the wrongs of their elders.



August 30, 2018

Dave Robinson A Gay GOP Sex Cadet Says Multiple Partners is the Reason For Gay Suicides

Gay GOP official under fire for linking LGBTQ suicide rates to number of sex partners
© Facebook

Dave Robinson, the communications director for the Salt Lake County Republican Party, is facing criticism after he linked suicide rates in the LGBTQ community to the number
 of sexual partners, a person has had.

During a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board, Robinson, who is gay, recalled a previous conversation he had in which he sought to defend the Republican Party’s relationship with the gay community.

“I said, you can own your own business, you can run for office — I don’t think there’s a better time on this planet in history to be gay than right now,” Robinson said to the Tribune.
Instead of enjoying a celebratory dinner with family recognizing the passage of Historic National Legislation for suicide prevention, I have to react to this.

Mr. Robinson, you do NOT speak for me. Bigotry in any form is unacceptable. Disappointing is not a strong enough word.

When pressed about the high suicide rates among those in the LGBTQ community, Robinson said he thinks “it has more to do with the lifestyle that the gays are leading
 that they refuse to have any scrutiny with.”

He then went on to note that he knows members of the LGBTQ community who have been involved with “over 2,000 sex partners” and said he believes that could be contributing to “some of the self-loathing” in the community that turns people to
committing suicide.

“You talk to some of these people that have had grundles of sex partners and the self-loathing and basically the unhappiness and the self-hatred level is tremendously high,
” he said. “The gay community really needs to start having some conversations
within their community, saying, how is our lifestyle affecting our mental health?”
The communications director also said the increase in the availability of PrEP,
a kind of pre-exposure prophylaxis used to prevent HIV, could be causing an increase in STD rates by causing members of the LGBTQ community to engage in unprotected sex like “bunny rabbits” and leading to mental health issues that can lead to suicide.
Robinson’s remarks prompted criticism from many other Republicans who
denounced his controversial claims.

“I am angry that someone who purports to speak for Republicans has made such inappropriate, inaccurate and hurtful comments,” Salt Lake County Council Chairwoman Aimee Winder Newton said in response to Robinson’s remarks to the Tribune. “This has caused our LGBTQ friends heartache and has been counterproductive in our fight
against suicide.”

Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R) also condemned Robinson’s remarks in a post on Twitter.
“Instead of enjoying a celebratory dinner with family recognizing the passage of Historic National Legislation for suicide prevention, I have to react to this,” Thatcher said on Twitter. “Mr. Robinson, you do NOT speak for me. Bigotry in any form is unacceptable. Disappointing is not a strong enough word.”
Robinson defended his comments after he was notified by the Tribune they would be published on Tuesday.

“I stand by my position that multiple sexual partners lead to increased risk of STD and HIV, which affects one’s mental, physical and financial health, which leads to a higher
 risk of depression which leads to a higher risk of thoughts of suicide which leads to
higher suicide rates,” Robinson told the newspaper in an email.
                                                                _*_

Let me just add that I know the empty feeling of being younger and letting other guys like you and wanting to be liked and be close to another man without having one of myself.

It is an empty feeling when you have to leave the bed at the certain time because he is finsihed with you or he leaves you alone on your own bed. 

Would someone kill themselves for that reason? I don't know but I do know that guys don't killed themselves because they are wanted and are invited to share someone else's body.

They might do it because nobody wants them but that is another topic.Some like not having strings attached and love!! leaving in the morning and going back to being single.. 

I stopped doing that and was able to settled down because I felt uncomfortable jumping from one to the other. I found someone (the wrong someone but at least I settle down). 

There are other things a gay man goes thru, awful hurtful things like bullying to non acceptance by your parents or your friends....those are the reasons they kill themselves.

Psychiatric associasions have found this type of rejection is conducive to loosing your self esteem and getting lost mentally. I think it's obvious this gay republican never went throught those things otherwise he would not be taking the church (any church) position which is we all go jumping from bed to bed and that bring all the problems. Its not that easy to diagnose suicide. This man is totally wrong and since he is gay and republican I can understand his idiotic thinking.
🦊Adam

August 7, 2018

There is a Larger Wave Than Ever of LGBT Candidates Running For Political Office in The US






A record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender candidates are running for office in November, as the Trump administration and state-level politicians have moved to roll back some legal protections. 



Sharice Davids, a leading Democrat in a top congressional primary in Kansas on Tuesday, is a lesbian and Native American who wants "L.G.B.T. people sitting in the room while decisions are being made."CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times
By Liam Stack and Catie Edmondson


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sharice Davids, a leading Democrat in a key congressional primary election on Tuesday, finished a White House fellowship in the early months of the Trump administration. As a lesbian and a Native American, she became convinced that hard-won progress on issues like gay rights and the environment would erode under Mr. Trump, and thought Kansans in her district might support her as a counterforce to the president.

​”We had to focus on getting more people elected to decision-making positions because that’s the way that we offset someone who wants to destroy the E.P.A. being appointed to run the E.P.A,” she said, referring to Scott Pruitt, Mr. Trump’s now-departed agency administrator.

Ms. Davids is among more than 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender candidates running for office this year — a record number, according to groups that track such data. Most are Democrats, and several are mounting anti-Trump congressional bids with a message broader than gay rights. Ms. Davids says she talks mostly about issues like health care and only had one exchange with a voter who questioned whether a gay person could win.

Around half of these candidates are running for state offices, a priority for activists who say many of the most important civil rights battles are happening close to home. In 2017, more than 120 bills described as “anti-L.G.B.T.” were introduced across 30 states, including adoption laws and so-called bathroom bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign. By January, 12 of them had become law. 

“We have seen a clear correlation between the presence of our legislators and passage of that legislation,” said Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston and the chief executive of the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Institute, a bipartisan group that tracks and supports gay and transgender candidates.

Ms. Davids and other candidates are also pursuing a new kind of political strategy that treats sexuality, race, and gender as campaign assets that intersect with their criticism of Mr. Trump, their warnings about lost progress on civil rights, and their policy ideas. 

Like many racial minority or female candidates this year, many L.G.B.T. candidates are aiming to appeal to broader audiences than campaigns of the past, when gay candidates often ran in predominantly gay areas and tailored their pitches to those communities. Today, L.G.B.T. candidates might tout a law enforcement background to appeal to the political center or campaign with their spouses and children to underscore an interest in policy issues important to parents. 

The Districts Are Mostly White. The Candidates Are Not.  
“I am sure there are going to be older people who are concerned about my being out or being a woman or being a pro-choice candidate or something,” said Ms. Davids, who is running in a six-way primary in the Third Congressional District, which covers Kansas City and its environs, including one of only two counties in Kansas that voted for Hillary Clinton. “But I wouldn’t be running if I thought that number was so high that it was unrealistic to be electable.” 

Many of the candidates are running in states far from liberal areas on the East and West Coasts. They include Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who is seeking re-election; Representative Jared Polis, who is the Democratic nominee for governor of Colorado; and Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who is running in the Aug. 28 Senate primary in Arizona.
Image


 Representative Jared Polis, a gay man, is the Democratic nominee for governor of Colorado.CreditRyan David Brown for The New York Times

There are also many first-time candidates like Ms. Davids in Kansas; Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman running in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary to be governor of Vermont; and Rick Neal, a former humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan and Liberia and current stay-at-home dad in Columbus, Ohio.  
 
Rick Neal for U.S. Congress

 
Mr. Neal won the Democratic primary in the 15th District of Ohio and will compete in November against Representative Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Mr. Neal said some voters were “naturally curious” about how he would appeal to people who “may not be comfortable” with his sexuality.

“I just talk about what I want to work on and what I want to do for people,” he said, citing issues like campaign finance reform and improving access to health care.

Mr. Neal said his campaign had gone smoothly, except for the day someone put a sticker for a white supremacist group on a lawn sign in front of his home. He has two African-American daughters, ages six and nine, and called the incident “pretty unsettling.” 

“I guess at the end of the day a gay guy with an interracial family running for Congress is a little bit like waving a red flag in front of a bull for some folks,” he said. “I felt like they were trying to intimidate us and that’s just not going to work.”

 Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman, is running in the Democratic primary to be governor of Vermont.CreditWilson Ring/Associated Press
 
The rising number of L.G.B.T. candidates comes at a time when the Trump administration has moved to roll back protections for gay and transgender people. Its actions have included an attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military and a Justice Department decision to argue that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect gay workers.

A shift to the right is also looming on the Supreme Court with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative jurist, to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote many of the landmark gay rights cases decided by the court in recent years.

There are roughly 500 openly L.G.B.T. elected officials in the country, including one governor and seven members of Congress, the Victory Institute said in a recent report. That is 0.1 percent of elected officials.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” said Jessica Gonzalez, who is running unopposed for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives to represent the 104th District, in Dallas County. She said L.G.B.T. lawmakers could “definitely make a big difference.”

Ms. Davids, of Kansas, agreed. “Having L.G.B.T. people sitting in the room while decisions are being made, and sitting there as peers, will shift the conversation,” she said. “I think it’s important that the lived experiences and the point of view of L.G.B.T. folks be included in conversations that affect all of us.” 

Despite the growing number of candidates, Andrew Reynolds, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who tracks those numbers, said he was “not convinced there will be a dramatic increase in the number of statehouse members.”

“It’s not like a massive rainbow wave that will dominate news stories,” he said.

There are 13 states — largely in the Midwest and the South — where no gay or transgender people serving in the legislature. The experience of candidates there point to the challenges that remain.

 
Michael Aycox, 30, who ran in a Democratic primary this spring in a Mississippi district that President Trump won by 24 points, was the first openly gay congressional candidate in the state’s history. He lost by almost 40 points.

Mr. Aycox, a police officer whose campaign proposed greater federal support of veterans, said he faced opposition from other Democrats who told him it was too early for Mississippi to elect a gay congressman.

“I had 17 death threats,” Mr. Aycox said. “My community respects me, but they’re going to stand with their religious beliefs every day. Religious beliefs are the governing framework for this state.”
Image

Michael Aycox ran in a Democratic primary this spring in a Mississippi district that President Trump won by 24 points. He lost by 40 points. CreditPaula Merritt/The Meridian Star, via Associated Press
While most of the candidates are Democrats, Peter Boykin, 40, the founder of Gays for Trump, is running for North Carolina’s Legislature as a Republican focused on issues like education. He said the party had “totally embraced” him. 

“The L.G.B.T.Q. the community has been brainwashed that the Democratic Party is for their best interests, and it’s not the case,” Mr. Boykin said, pointing out that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton initially opposed gay marriage.

Mr. Boykin acknowledged that the Republican Party has “some issues” with respect to gay rights, but he said working with “these so-called homophobic senators” is more effective than taking a combative stance.

That is why some, like Ms. Davids, said they were running for office in the first place: to get different kinds of people engaged with the political process.

“We are going to elect more women this year, we’re going to elect more people who are L.G.B.T., we’re going to elect more people who are people of color,” said Ms. Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin. “This midterm election cycle is our opportunity to demonstrate who we are as a country.”

Liam Stack reported from Kansas City, Kan., and Catie Edmondson from Washington.

Today Tueasday is elction day for the following:
Voters in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Washington State are heading to the polls....
Dont Stay home and Bitch! Go Vote and make a difference because it starts on local elections. We can change the country before more damage is done!!

July 31, 2018

LGBTQ Gay Rights Group Doubling Staff and Intensifying Efforts for The Gay Vote





The nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights group marked 100 days before the November midterm elections with an announcement that it is intensifying efforts in key states, including Wisconsin.
The Human Rights Campaign said it is more than doubling staff in key states and races to a total of 130 in a push to #TurnOUT 10 million LGBTQ voters and millions of more allies.
HRC said it is hiring 45 organizers and deploying 50 more staff to join 35 existing staff in key districts and states as part of the largest grass-roots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history. 
For more than a year, HRC has had staff on the ground, building support for pro-equality candidates in Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
In a press statement, JoDee Winterhof, HRC's senior vice president for policy and political affairs, said, “The LGBTQ community has endured an unrelenting onslaught of attacks by the Trump-Pence administration on our basic civil rights."
The organization is "seizing this opportunity to change that by doing everything in our power to turn out millions of LGBTQ voters and allies to elect pro-equality senators, representatives, governors, and others who will put Americans first and pull the emergency brake on this hateful regime.” 
Since last July, HRC says it has helped more than 25,000 people register to vote and tallied 6,000 volunteer hours phone banking and canvassing for 330 candidates up and down the ballot.
HRC also has trained more than 800 local advocates and an additional 1,800 have signed up for training online. People in any state can text “VOTER” to 30644 to verify their voter registration, find their polling place, and receive election reminders. For more information on how to get involved, sign up to volunteer, or join an advocacy training, visit HRC’s Equality Voter Action Center.
The Wisconsin Gazette

May 24, 2018

LGBT Democratic Candidates Doing Well on Primary Run-offs






At about 8:30 p.m., LGBT candidates appeared to be performing well in today’s primary runoff voting, while many of the far-right candidates in runoffs seem to be coming up short.
In one of the most-watched primary races nationwide, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is leading Andrew White by nearly 4 points — 52.3-47.7 — with 58 percent of the precincts reporting, according to the New York Times election watch website.
If Valdez holds onto her lead, she will face Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in November. If she were to beat Abbott, Valdez will become the state’s — possibly the nation’s? — first openly lesbian Latina governor.
In the U.S. House District 3 Democratic runoff, lesbian attorney Lorie Burch holds a comfortable lead over Sam Johnson, 74.6 percent to 25.4 percent, with 16 percent of the precincts reporting. If she wins, Burch faces Republican Van Taylor in November.
In the U.S. House District 21 Democratic runoff, lesbian candidate Mary Wilson of Austin trails Joseph Kopser, 58.9-41.1, with 49 percent of the precincts reporting. The New York Times is already calling the U.S. House District 23 Democratic runoff for lesbian candidate Gina Ortiz-Jones, who has a 66.2-33.8 lead over Rick Trevino, with 56 percent of the precincts reporting. She faces Republican incumbent Will Hurd in November.
And in the U.S. House District 27 Democratic runoff, gay candidate Eric Holguin holds a comfortable 57.9-42.1 lead over Roy Barrera, with 48 percent of the precincts reporting.
Lesbian candidate Fran Watson of Houston is trailing Rita Lucido, 42-58, in the race for Democratic nominee for State Senate District 17, with 31 percent of precincts reporting.
In other good news for Texas progressives, The Dallas Morning News’ election watch blog reports that of the six state legislative Republican Primary runoffs with candidates backed heavily by two prominent right-wing groups — Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life only one of those candidates is winning.

July 12, 2017

The Gay Community Could Be The Next Political Power House



 Stamps celebrating the gay community

 

November 2016 was a bad election for Democrats and the progressive community. But when looked at through the lens of the gay rights movement, it was actually pretty decent.
Gay rights groups helped unseat a Republican governor in North Carolina who vigorously defended a law restricting what public bathrooms transgender people can use. On the national level, Hillary Clinton was the first major-party presidential nominee to make gay rights a prominent part of her campaign. Exit polls show lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters were the only demographic group to increase their support for Clinton over President Barack Obama four years ago.
That's the background against which the Human Rights Campaign is launching its largest, most sustained investment in politics.
The nation's most influential LGBT rights advocacy group announced Tuesday that it will spend $26 million and hire at least 20 additional political staffers to deploy across all 50 states ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The goal: replicate what happened in North Carolina in Senate, House and governor's races across the nation next year and make the LGBT vote one of the most forceful voting blocs in the progressive movement. 
The impetus: Like so many fired-up left-leaning groups these days, it's President Trump.
“I think folks believed that after the Supreme Court ruled on marriage, that we were headed quickly toward a place of full equality in this country,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “And the president's attacks on our community — and so many minority communities — has served to be, in many ways, a great awakening of our democracy.”
The Human Rights Campaign isn't a newcomer to politics. The group has been around since 1980 and has field and volunteer staff across the nation. But Griffin said until now, the group had the resources to drop into a political battle only for a couple of months, then leave when it was over.
Since Trump got elected, donations to the group are flooding in (most donations are under $10), LGBT people are stepping out alongside other progressive groups to protest and, for the first time, there will be a dedicated effort to keep this community politically activated. 
The Human Rights Campaign will be investing in all 50 states but will put its North Carolina model to the test specifically in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada. They're all swing states, most of which Trump won, and all have big 2018 Senate races as well as some potentially competitive governor's races.
Griffin cited the group's desire to defend Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly gay U.S. senator, who could face a tough reelection next year.
The Human Rights Campaign also will play in House races. Of the 25 House Republicans who represent districts that Clinton won — think Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — 23 get a failing score from the Human Rights Campaign on gay rights. The group would love to kick some of those lawmakers out of office next year, which would go a long way in Democrats making gains in the House.
Gay rights advocates think the raw potential is there for them to make a big difference, perhaps in a way other progressive groups haven't.
Griffin said LGBT people are uniquely touched by politics because they aren't just one demographic. They're many. “LGBTQ people are Muslims,” Griffin said, “So when he attacks Muslims, he's attacked our community. LGBTQ people are women, so when he tries to defund Planned Parenthood, that's an attack on LGBTQ people.” 
A 2012 study by UCLA Law's Williams Institute suggested that without the support of LGBT voters in four swing states, Obama could have lost the election.
That same bloc of voters, which made up about 5 percent of the voting pool in 2016, went for Clinton over Trump by a record-breaking 78 percent. In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory lost his reelection bid even as Trump won the state by 3.5 percent.
And then there are polls that show more adults identifying as LGBT (an estimated 10 million) and more record support for same-sex marriage. A May Gallup poll found that 64 percent of respondents think it should be legal.
But the gay rights community has had its political struggles, too. About the same time they've grown as a voting bloc, Republicans have gained control of government at nearly every level.
Every year for the past couple of years, LGBT people have played whack-a-mole at the state legislative level, trying to knock down legislation that restricts where they can use the bathroom, where they can live, what businesses can refuse to serve them, or, most recently, whether they can adopt children in states such as Texas, Alabama and South Dakota. As Democrats have lost ground, so has the gay rights movement (with the exception of same-sex marriage being legalized).
But the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group feels confident — $26 million worth of confident — that aggressive advocacy on its part could go a long way to boosting not only its prominence but the entire progressive agenda.
 Washington Post

December 2, 2016

Congress Killed Anti Gay Legislation Permitting Gays to be Fired





A provision that would have allowed LGBT people to be fired from their jobs has been struck from a defense spending bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which got a thumbs up from the Republican-controlled House in May, until recently included an amendment that would have given federal contractors the right to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Known as the Russell Amendment, the bill has been stalled in committee for months after the House and Senate were unable to agree on a final draft of the legislation. On Tuesday the Washington Blade reported that the provision had been killed.

The Russell Amendment, which was named for its sponsor, Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., was drafted in response to an executive order passed in 2014 by President Barack Obama. Executive Order 13672, which prohibited the firing of federal employees because of their LGBT identity, reportedly affected 28 million Americans. By effectively repealing those protections, those workers would have been at risk if the bill were passed.

This victory would be a proper cause for celebration if the incoming administration wasn’t already emboldening the forces of intolerance across the country, a message of anti-LGBT hate that’s especially potent during a time of enormous backlash to recent civil rights gains.

The provision is notably similar to bills passed in Mississippi and Indiana that let businesses and employers discriminate on the basis of “sincerely held religious belief.”


The Magnolia State passed House Bill 1523 in March, a “religious liberty” bill that would have affected a number of disparate groups. The legislation would have allowed medics to deny services to a transgender person who had experienced a heart attack and was in need of treatment. A landlord could deny the housing application of an unmarried couple. An employer could even terminate a female worker for having short hair or wearing pants in the office, as hypothesized by ThinkProgress.

These scenarios might seem absurd but are not out without precedent: A bartender was fired in Nevada in 2004 for not wearing makeup during her shift.

This opportunity for broad-based discrimination in Mississippi was struck down by a federal court in June, when HB 1523 was blocked by a federal ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves. Reeves claimed that the law failed to “honor [America’s] tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens.”

A similar law in Indiana, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was amended after passage last year. The law led to more than $70 million in economic losses following a nationwide corporate boycott of the state.

Despite these bills’ defeat, Russell maintained that pushing a nearly identical law at the federal level was necessary to protect “the free exercise of religion.”

“More than 2000 federal government contracts a year are awarded to religious organizations and contractors that provide essential services in many vital programs,” the Oklahoma lawmaker claimed in a May speech delivered on the floor of the House. “Now many of these services are being impacted due to conflicting and ambiguous executive guidance. The groups under assault are often the best, if not the only, organizations able to offer the assistance they perform.”

The Russell Amendment would have expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the race, color, religion, sex or national origin, to offer protections for religiously affiliated groups that do business with the government. Because sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet protected under the landmark bill, such a law could technically be enacted.

Congressional Democrats fought the provision, warning that the definition of what comprises a faith-based organization is so broad that any number of groups could claim religious affiliation to exploit the legislation.

A group of 40 Senate Democrats, joined by two independents, penned a letter in October voicing opposition to the Russell Amendment’s passage.

“This discrimination erodes the freedoms that our military has fought for generations to protect,” the letter read. “It would particularly harm women, as religiously-affiliated contractors and grantees would be able to discriminate against individuals based on their personal reproductive health care decisions, including using birth control, becoming pregnant while unmarried, using in vitro fertilization to conceive a child, and accessing other reproductive health care that otherwise violate particular religious tenets.”
 
A coalition of political lobby groups opposed to the bill, including the Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for American Progress Action Fund, American Military Partner Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State collected signatures against it. More than 320,000 people signed the petition.

The organizations, though, particularly placed pressure on Sen. John McCain to block the Russell Amendment. McCain, who serves as the chair of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, had been instrumental in preventing the passage of a similar “religious liberty” bill in Arizona two years ago: State Bill 1062 faced a backlash from corporate leaders, including the National Football League, that would have led to an estimated $140 million blow to the state’s economy.

After McCain urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, which had passed the state’s House and Senate, she did just that.

The lobbying efforts appear to have been successful once again. A congressional aide told the Blade that Republicans had backed off the Russell Amendment, claiming that the provision was “always an imperfect remedy” to the nationwide battle over religious protections. The anonymous source did add, however, that the fight isn’t over. “Subsequent to the election, new paths have opened up to address those issues,” he said.

While LGBT rights advocates might claim the failure of the Russell Amendment a victory, that last sentence is an

On his first day in office, the president-elect has vowed to do the very same thing that the Russell Amendment authorizes: overturn of protections for federal LGBT contractors. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump vowed to overturn Obama’s executive orders. The president-elect has yet to back off that pledge (unlike his recent flip-flops on an Affordable Care Act repeal, which had been central tenet of his campaign, and assigning a federal prosecutor to imprison his former challenger Hillary Clinton).

In allowing for discrimination against LGBT workers, Trump will likely have the support of his vice president, Mike Pence. As the governor of Indiana, Pence personally signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In a 2015 interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s “This Week,” Pence defended the law, claiming that it was “absolutely not” a mistake.

Aside from his running mate, Trump’s White House appears to be stacked with figures who have made a name for themselves by opposing equal rights for LGBT people.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a front-runner to helm the Department of Homeland Security, has claimed that trans people “suffer from mental disorders” and live a “freakish lifestyle.” Betsy DeVos, tapped to head up the Department of Education, donated $200,000 to a 2004 effort to add an amendment to Michigan’s constitution defining marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman. Tom Price, who could become the new health and human services secretary, co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, yet another bill allowing anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religion.

The latter bill, co-authored by Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, was introduced in 2015 and some form of it stands a decent shot at passage under a Congress soon to be controlled by Republicans in both houses. Trump has previously stated his support for the First Amendment Defense Act.

The Russell Amendment may be DOA for now, but the threat of anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump is here to stay.

A provision that would have allowed LGBT people to be fired from their jobs has been struck from a defense spending bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which got a thumbs up from the Republican-controlled House in May, until recently included an amendment that would have given federal contractors the right to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Known as the Russell Amendment, the bill has been stalled in committee for months after the House and Senate were unable to agree on a final draft of the legislation. On Tuesday the Washington Blade reported that the provision had been killed.

The Russell Amendment, which was named for its sponsor, Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., was drafted in response to an executive order passed in 2014 by President Barack Obama. Executive Order 13672, which prohibited the firing of federal employees because of their LGBT identity, reportedly affected 28 million Americans. By effectively repealing those protections, those workers would have been at risk if the bill were passed.

This victory would be a proper cause for celebration if the incoming administration wasn’t already emboldening the forces of intolerance across the country, a message of anti-LGBT hate that’s especially potent during a time of enormous backlash to recent civil rights gains.

The provision is notably similar to bills passed in Mississippi and Indiana that let businesses and employers discriminate on the basis of “sincerely held religious belief.”


The Magnolia State passed House Bill 1523 in March, a “religious liberty” bill that would have affected a number of disparate groups. The legislation would have allowed medics to deny services to a transgender person who had experienced a heart attack and was in need of treatment. A landlord could deny the housing application of an unmarried couple. An employer could even terminate a female worker for having short hair or wearing pants in the office, as hypothesized by ThinkProgress.

These scenarios might seem absurd but are not out without precedent: A bartender was fired in Nevada in 2004 for not wearing makeup during her shift.

This opportunity for broad-based discrimination in Mississippi was struck down by a federal court in June, when HB 1523 was blocked by a federal ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves. Reeves claimed that the law failed to “honor [America’s] tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens.”

A similar law in Indiana, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was amended after passage last year. The law led to more than $70 million in economic losses following a nationwide corporate boycott of the state.

Despite these bills’ defeat, Russell maintained that pushing a nearly identical law at the federal level was necessary to protect “the free exercise of religion.”

“More than 2000 federal government contracts a year are awarded to religious organizations and contractors that provide essential services in many vital programs,” the Oklahoma lawmaker claimed in a May speech delivered on the floor of the House. “Now many of these services are being impacted due to conflicting and ambiguous executive guidance. The groups under assault are often the best, if not the only, organizations able to offer the assistance they perform.”

The Russell Amendment would have expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the race, color, religion, sex or national origin, to offer protections for religiously affiliated groups that do business with the government. Because sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet protected under the landmark bill, such a law could technically be enacted.

Congressional Democrats fought the provision, warning that the definition of what comprises a faith-based organization is so broad that any number of groups could claim religious affiliation to exploit the legislation.

A group of 40 Senate Democrats, joined by two independents, penned a letter in October voicing opposition to the Russell Amendment’s passage.

“This discrimination erodes the freedoms that our military has fought for generations to protect,” the letter read. “It would particularly harm women, as religiously-affiliated contractors and grantees would be able to discriminate against individuals based on their personal reproductive health care decisions, including using birth control, becoming pregnant while unmarried, using in vitro fertilization to conceive a child, and accessing other reproductive health care that otherwise violate particular religious tenets.”
 
A coalition of political lobby groups opposed to the bill, including the Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for American Progress Action Fund, American Military Partner Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State collected signatures against it. More than 320,000 people signed the petition.

The organizations, though, particularly placed pressure on Sen. John McCain to block the Russell Amendment. McCain, who serves as the chair of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, had been instrumental in preventing the passage of a similar “religious liberty” bill in Arizona two years ago: State Bill 1062 faced a backlash from corporate leaders, including the National Football League, that would have led to an estimated $140 million blow to the state’s economy.

After McCain urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, which had passed the state’s House and Senate, she did just that.

The lobbying efforts appear to have been successful once again. A congressional aide told the Blade that Republicans had backed off the Russell Amendment, claiming that the provision was “always an imperfect remedy” to the nationwide battle over religious protections. The anonymous source did add, however, that the fight isn’t over. “Subsequent to the election, new paths have opened up to address those issues,” he said.

While LGBT rights advocates might claim the failure of the Russell Amendment a victory, that last sentence is an eerie reminder of the challenges that queer people will face under a Donald Trump presidency. 

On his first day in office, the president-elect has vowed to do the very same thing that the Russell Amendment authorizes: overturn of protections for federal LGBT contractors. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump vowed to overturn Obama’s executive orders. The president-elect has yet to back off that pledge (unlike his recent flip-flops on an Affordable Care Act repeal, which had been central tenet of his campaign, and assigning a federal prosecutor to imprison his former challenger Hillary Clinton).

In allowing for discrimination against LGBT workers, Trump will likely have the support of his vice president, Mike Pence. As the governor of Indiana, Pence personally signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In a 2015 interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s “This Week,” Pence defended the law, claiming that it was “absolutely not” a mistake.

Aside from his running mate, Trump’s White House appears to be stacked with figures who have made a name for themselves by opposing equal rights for LGBT people.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a front-runner to helm the Department of Homeland Security, has claimed that trans people “suffer from mental disorders” and live a “freakish lifestyle.” Betsy DeVos, tapped to head up the Department of Education, donated $200,000 to a 2004 effort to add an amendment to Michigan’s constitution defining marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman. Tom Price, who could become the new health and human services secretary, co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, yet another bill allowing anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religion.

The latter bill, co-authored by Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, was introduced in 2015 and some form of it stands a decent shot at passage under a Congress soon to be controlled by Republicans in both houses. Trump has previously stated his support for the First Amendment Defense Act.

The Russell Amendment may be DOA for now, but the threat of anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump is here to stay.

April 15, 2016

Sanders Supporting Candidates Seeking to Defeat Gay Contenders



                                                              
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Following criticism that he hasn’t aided candidates down ballot from the presidential
                                   
                                   
 race, Bernie Sanders has announced three congressional hopefuls he supports — and two of them are seeking to defeat openly gay contenders.
In a fundraising email on Wednesday, Sanders announced he has endorsed three U.S. House candidates who support him in the presidential race and are seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Congress.
Sanders declared support for Lucy Flores, a former Nevada Assembly member running in Nevada’s 4th congressional district; Pramila Jaypal, a member of the Washington State Senate running in Washington’s 7th congressional district; and Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University running in New York’s 19th congressional district.
The candidate makes the endorsements amid criticism he hasn’t aided other candidates seeking office despite having raised $140 million this election cycle. An unprecedented amount comes from small donors, whom Sanders often says have contributed a average of $27 to his campaign.
According to the Huffington Post, the fundraising email isn’t the first time two of these three candidates have worked with the Sanders campaign. Both Flores and Jaypal introduced the presidential candidate during rallies in their respective home states of Nevada and Washington. Flores also appeared in an advertisement for Sanders that ran before the Nevada caucuses.
But two of these three candidates are seeking to defeat openly gay contenders seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Congress. As of right now, a total of seven lawmakers serving in the Congress are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual, or slightly more than 1 percent of the legislative body. That’s short of the estimated 3.5 percent of the U.S. population as a whole who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Transgender people make up an estimated one-third of one percent of the U.S. population, but no member of Congress, nor any member of a state legislature, is openly transgender.)
Teachout is running against Will Yandik, an openly gay farmer and Livingston deputy town supervisor who recently had a child with his same-sex spouse. Their primary is on June 28, weeks after the presidential contest on Tuesday.
Jayapal is competing against two openly gay candidates: Joe McDermott, a former member of the Washington legislature and now a member of the King County Council, and Brady Walkinshaw, a member of the Washington State House. Their primary is set for August 2, some time after the Washington presidential caucuses for Democrats, which took place on March 26, and the Republicans, which is set for May 24.
Both McDermott and Walkinshaw told the Washington Blade they objected to Sanders’ endorsements of their opponents at a time LGBT people aren’t proportionately represented in Congress.
McDermott called Sanders’ endorsement out-of-state interference in a race that should be decided by people of his district n Washington State.
“The people of Washington’s seventh congressional district should decide their next representative, not out of state interests, whether from Super PACs or presidential candidates,” McDermott said. “As a gay legislator, I led efforts to include our transgender citizens in our state’s hate crime statute, and was a leader in the years long work to achieve marriage equality in Washington. I’ll put my track record of proven progressive results up against anyone, and so long as the voters of the seventh district aren’t drowned out by outside money, I’m very confident we’ll be successful in November.”
Walkinshaw said Sanders’ effort is undermining efforts to seat an openly LGBT and Spanish-speaking person as a representative in Congress.
“It’s sad that any national campaign would ignore the fact that multiple progressive leaders are running in competitive Democratic primaries like Washington’s 7th, where we have the chance to send our State’s first openly LGBT member to Congress and a first native Spanish speaker,” Walkinshaw said. “We’re seeing states and a radicalized Republican party around our country pursuing discriminatory policies with newfound fervor, and now is not the time to be closing doors on LGBT candidates.”
Their opponent whom Sanders endorsed, Jayapal, is a civil rights activist who recently was executive director of the pro-immigration advocacy group OneAmerica. During her brief tenure starting this year as a member of the Washington State Senate, Jayapal voted against SB 6443, anti-trans bathroom legislation that would have prohibited transgender students from using public restrooms in schools consistent with their gender identity.
The campaign for Yandik declined to comment for this article. Teachout, who served as CEO for the campaign finance reform Mayday PAC, has taken part in New York City Pride and during her 2014 primary challenge to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was endorsed by some local New York City LGBT groups.
McDermott has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, but neither Walkinshaw nor Yandik have made an endorsement in the presidential race.
The campaign for Sanders, who has a long record in support of LGBT rights and voted against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, didn’t respond to repeated requests from the Washington Blade to comment on whether Sanders was aware he’s raising money against gay congressional candidates and whether he thinks the endorsements are undermining LGBT representation in Congress.
During a campaign rally Wednesday night attended by an estimated 27,000 people in New York City, Sanders said his campaign about ensuring a “decent standing of living” for all Americans, invoking the Stonewall riots among other things as an example of progress.
“This campaign remembers, interestingly enough, something that happened two or three blocks away from here,” Sanders said. “And that is that 47 years ago, the gay community said that in this country, right over here in the Stonewall Inn, that in this country, people will have the right to love each other no matter what their gender is.”
By Chris Johnson who is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents’ Association

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