Yesterday we began our five-part series, “19-Year Old Gay Teen’s Suicide” with Part 1: “Watch The Bigots Who Pushed Him Over The Edge.” (See part three: 19-Year Old Gay Teenâ€™s Suicide: Part 3 â€“ â€œGayâ€ Same As â€œFornicator, Adulterer, Bigamist, Prostituteâ€) In it, we showed you a video of a so-called concerned citizen whom I dubbed “Mr. Slippery Slope,” who had the gall to stand in front of his town’s mayor, city council and fellow citizens to protest a proclamation to name October “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.”
You’ll remember Mr. Slippery Slope predicted with certainty, should the proclamation be adopted, that homosexuality will be â€œinfiltratedâ€ into the schools, schools will be forced to teach about how people came out, there will be pictures of gay sex shown to children in school, â€œrecruiting children into these lifestyles will be very easy,â€ hate crimes laws will be passed to discriminate against anyone who speaks out about homophobia, the bible will be banned, the bible will be called a hate book, clergy will be put in jailâ€¦
Sadly, it is words like this, and the words you’ll hear below, that pushed nineteen-year old Zach Harrington into suicide. Yes, Zach’s parents believe their son’s death came as a result of hearing three hours of “debate” on the merits of something as innocuous as a proclamation honoring LGBT history.
The Norman, Oklahoma newspaper reports Harringtonâ€™s father, Van, while blaming the comments from the debate for his sonâ€™s suicide, doesnâ€™t hold them solely responsible. â€œVan Harrington said he feels a lack of acceptance from society and what he calls a â€œtoxic meetingâ€ last month is what finally pushed Zach over the edge.â€
I also believe we have the professional bullies to blame for this ignorance, ignorance that caused this young manâ€™s death, and that caused the death of ten other teens in September alone.
Today, watch this Norman citizen say, “The love that dare not speak its name has become the love that never shuts up.” He then compares a proclamation for “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month” to a proclamation for “wife-swapping.” Classy. “In conclusion,” he says, “If you choose to vote this down, no one will be physically harmed.” Think again.
Our thoughts are with the families of all teens who succumbed to suicide after enduring anti-gay hate. It is my hope that all the people who had a hand in spreading that hate, homophobia, and ignorance, turn their lives around and embrace people’s differences as much as their similarities.
I invite anyone from Norman to contact me to share their thoughts on the proclamation, and on the life and death of Zach Harrington.
(See the next installment: 19-Year Old Gay Teenâ€™s Suicide: Part 3 â€“ â€œGayâ€ Same As â€œFornicator, Adulterer, Bigamist, Prostituteâ€)
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‘Oh Come On’: Joe Manchin Insists His Opposition to First Woman of Color OMB Nominee ‘Is Not Personal’
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is responding to massive criticism of him over the past few days, culminating in allegations of sexism and racism, over his announcement he is opposed to President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget.
“Oh come on,” Manchin, who heads the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, told NBC News’ Garrett Haake when asked about his opposition to Neera Tanden, “it’s not personal at all. No, no.”
Manchin announced his opposition to Tanden on Friday, opening the door for three Republicans to almost immediately follow: Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Rob Portman and subsequently declared their opposition.
Tanden is a woman of color. Born to Indian immigrants, she has been president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress for nearly a decade. She also served in both the Clinton and Obama White Houses and as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Manchin and Republicans have been attacking her over her admittedly mean tweets, many of which she chose to delete in an apparent effort to show contrition. She’s also repeatedly apologized.
But Tanden isn’t the only woman Manchin opposes, nor the only woman of color.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) is President Biden’s pick to be Secretary of the Interior. She would be the first Native American to run the $20+ billon agency, and the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Manchin declared he was unsure of her nomination on Monday.
That would be two of President Biden’s picks Manchin seemingly opposes, both women of color, and neither of grounds they are not qualified.
Manchin late last month also reportedly “sniped” at Vice President Kamala Harris, after she visited West Virginia to drum up support for the administration’s coronavirus relief package.
Many say they are starting to see a pattern with Manchin, a Democrat so conservative there are three Republicans to the left of him. That pattern involves giving Republican presidents and male nominees, especially white male nominees, great deference, as his voting history proves.
Sexism isn’t “personal,” it is a pattern. There is always “justification” for treating someone any way you want, but the pattern of @Sen_JoeManchin treating Trump’s white male nominees with more deference and respect than Tanden is what makes it discriminatory.
— Snowflake In Chief (@SJDoubleYeah) February 23, 2021
Top Texas Elected Official’s 2021 Priorities: Pandemic, Power Grid, and Star Spangled Banner Protection Act
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday unveiled his top 31 priorities for the 2021 legislative session, a mix of newly urgent issues after last week’s winter storm, familiar topics stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and a fresh injection of conservative red meat into a session that has been relatively bland so far.
Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them changed in recent days due to the storm, which left millions of Texans without power. After his top priority — the must-pass budget — Patrick listed his priorities as reforming the state’s electrical grid operator, as well as “power grid stability.”
Patrick’s specific plans for such items remain unclear, however. Almost all of his priority bills have not been filed yet, and the list he released refers to the issues in general terms.
The priorities echo much of the agenda that Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in his State of the State speech earlier this month, including his emergency items like expanding broadband access and punishing local governments that “defund the police.” Fourth on the list is a cause that Patrick himself prioritized recently — a “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act” that would require the national anthem to be played at all events that get public funding.
However, besides the fresh focus on the electrical grid, perhaps the most notable takeaway from Patrick’s agenda is how far it goes in pushing several hot-button social conservative issues. Patrick’s eighth and ninth priorities have to do with abortion — a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as well as an “abortion ban trigger” that would automatically ban the practice if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Abbott said he wanted to further restrict abortion in his State of the State speech but did not mention those two proposals specifically.
Abortion is not the only politically contentious topic on Patrick’s list. As his 29th priority, Patrick put “Fair Sports for Women & Girls,” an apparent reference to proposals that would ban transgender girls and women who attend public schools from playing on single-sex sports teams designated for girls and women. He also included three items related to gun rights: “Protect Second Amendment Businesses,” “Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts,” and “Second Amendment Protections for Travelers.” It was not immediately clear what specifically those three bills would entail.
Coming in at 10th is another proposal that was left unmentioned in Abbott’s speech despite popularity with the GOP base: banning taxpayer-funded lobbying. That is considered one of the big pieces of leftover business for conservatives after the 2019 session.
While the new state House speaker, Dade Phelan, has been a proponent of outlawing taxpayer-funded lobbying, it remains to be seen how receptive the lower chamber will be to the rest of Patrick’s agenda. The House, especially under previous Speaker Joe Straus, has a history of slowing — or stopping — at least some of Patrick’s most controversial ideas. Phelan has not released a similar list of priorities.
To be sure, though, Patrick’s list covers all five emergency items that Abbott designated in his State of the State speech, when the governor vowed to use this session to aid Texas’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick said in a statement that he backs Abbott’s priorities “as well as other legislation to make sure the Texas economy continues to come back stronger than ever following the pandemic.”
Patrick’s priorities drew the swiftest pushback from abortion rights advocates. Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said Patrick was elevating the wrong issues, especially after the winter storm.
“Just when we think state leaders can’t go any lower, Dan Patrick throws out this list—nothing more than a political stunt and a weak attempt to save face with his base, while Texans still need essential health care and critical community support,” Limon-Mercado said in a statement.
For Patrick, the priority list marks something of an end to a relatively quiet start to the session for the typically outspoken lieutenant governor. He has increased his public profile in recent days, including by announcing his plan for the national anthem legislation after a report that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to stop playing the song during home games this season.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/23/dan-patrick-2021-priorities/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.
Last Year Susan Collins Urged McConnell to Pass the LGBTQ Equality Act – Now She’s Refusing to Even Co-Sponsor It
Is U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) playing politics with vital civil rights legislation?
Just eight months ago Senator Collins was the only Republican Senator to co-sponsor the LGBTQ Equality Act. She was also in a desperate re-election race.
On June 15 she tweeted her strong support for the bill:
Congress should also pass the Equality Act & amend the Civil Rights Act to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation & gender identity.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 15, 2020
The following day she signed onto a letter to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding he “immediately bring the bipartisan Equality Act (H.R. 5) to the Senate floor for a vote and fully enshrine in federal law explicit protections for LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The bill never came to the floor, and Collins got re-elected.
On Tuesday The Washington Blade reported Senator Collins was refusing to co-sponsor the Equality Act, a dramatic about face after being such a strong supporter last year.
“There were certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision,” Collins told the Blade’s Chris Johnson, not specifying what “revisions” were so desperately needed they were resulting in her refusing to sponsor the bill – and putting its passage in jeopardy.
“Throwing some veiled criticism at the Human Rights Campaign,” Johnson writes, “which declined to endorse her in 2020 as it had done in previous elections, Collins added, ‘Unfortunately the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year.'”
The Equality Act will receive a vote on the House floor this week, reportedly Thursday or Friday. President Biden has said he wants to sign it into law in his first 100 days (although his staff has since suggested it may take longer.)
Like so many other critical pieces of legislation, the Equality Act will need 60 votes to pass, unless Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) kills the filibuster, something many liberals are demanding he do.
Other GOP Senators are treating it like they used to treat tweets from Donald Trump.
“I don’t know what’s in it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.
“I have not read the bill,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) also said.
Will Collins change her mind? Will she co-sponsor the Equality Act? Will she reveal what vital “revisions” she’s demanding be made before she does?
Senator Collins’ office did not immediately respond to a call from NCRM.
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