Under a President Mitt Romney, there are at least 22 advances in LGBT civil rights delivered by President Barack Obama that most likely will disappear. While Nancy Pelosi and, to a far lesser extent, Harry Reid, have worked to support civil rights and protections for the gay community, Barack Obama has — sometimes with great fanfare, oftentimes in the shadows — delivered important advances.
Back in 2010, at Change.org, I wrote a somewhat controversial (at the time) article, “Obama’s Gay Rights Come With An Expiration Date,” which stated:
President Obama should know better than to incrementalize gay rights, and tie them to his presidency. And yet, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
President Obama has slowly and quietly doled out rights to the LGBTQ community. These are rights we should have by the very nature of our existence, rights that every other American has upon birth, but the president has doled them out cautiously, meekly, without pomp or circumstance, and, worse, he has tied them to his presidency.
This tactic is problematic for two reasons.
First, by expanding our civil rights by issuing executive orders and memoranda, President Obama’s gay civil rights come with an expiration date. Yes, that’s right. The rights he has decreed, without working through Congress, are tied to his presidency. Any of his successors can, simply with the stroke of a pen, wipe out all our hard-earned rights, just because he or she wants to. Do you honestly think the next Republican presidentÂ won’tÂ do that?
Today, the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson posts a long list of 21 LGBT advances a President Romney could — with the stroke of a pen or incrementally — make disappear into a more progressive history.
Asking, “Would President Romney undo pro-LGBT advances?,” Johnson notes:
Many of the pro-LGBT advances that have happened under the Obama administration occurred through changes made by the executive branch rather than through legislation. Changes that were made without the consent of Congress could be reversed under an administration that wanted to cozy up to the religious right.
The Washington Blade has identified five regulatory changes and 16 sub-regulatory changes enacted by the Obama administration that could be reversed if Romney were elected to the White House. These changes include giving greater recognition to same-sex couples, protecting federal LGBT workers against discrimination and ensuring the federal government recognizes the correct gender of transgender people.
The one Johnson doesn’t include in his list of “five regulatory changes and 16 sub-regulatory changes” is the most-obvious: Obama’s support of same-sex marriage equality.
Here’s the list from the Blade:
The Administrative Procedures Act provides safeguards against politically motivated policy switches.Â Thus repealing the policies below would involve a multi-year process.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted a regulation ending the ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.
- President Obama issued Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 directing HHS to issue regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare to prohibit discrimination in visitation against LGBT people.Â HHS issued a final regulation that went into effect in early 2011.
- HUD issued final regulations in January 2012 prohibiting discrimination in federal public housing programs and federally insured mortgage loans.Â HUD also requires its grantees to comply with LGBT-inclusive state and local housing discrimination protections.
- The Office of Personnel Management published final regulations in the Federal Register expanding the eligibility for long-term care coverage to same-sex partners and sick leave to care for a same-sex partner.
- Â The federal Prison Rape Elimination Commission proposed national standards to reduce sexual abuse in correctional facilities, including standards regarding LGBT and intersex inmates. They were later instituted as a rule finalized by the Justice Department last month.
Sub-Regulatory Guidance/Policy Announcements
These are policy advances instituted by â€” and subject to the will of â€” the administration.
- The Department of Health and Human Services revised its funding guidance around abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs, requiring that recipient programs are inclusive of and non-stigmatizing toward LGBT youth.
- HHS, in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice, launchedÂ stopbullyingnow.com.
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently released new 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards.Â These new standards provide guidance that aims to improve treatment of LGBT and HIV-positive people in detention facilities.
- In summer 2011, ICE published a memo and clarifying guidance providing that an individualâ€™s family relationships, including a same-sex relationship, would be considered as a factor in labeling certain deportations as low-priority deportations.
- The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced a proposed regulatory change expanding the meaning of â€œmembers of a family residing in one householdâ€ for the purposes of the customs declaration form, which must be completed prior to re-entry to the United States.
- The DOJ issued an opinion clarifying that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act related to stalking and abuse apply equally to same-sex partners.
- The State Department revised the standards for changing a gender marker on a passport, making the process less burdensome for transgender people.
- In September 2011, the Social Security Administration confirmed that it ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). This resulted in the immediate cessation of SSA sending notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employeeâ€™s W-2 does not match Social Security records.
- The State Department extended numerous benefits to the partners of Foreign Service officers, including diplomatic passports and access to emergency evacuation.
- The State Department reversed a Bush administration policy that refused to use a same-sex marriage license as evidence of a name change for passports.
- The Department of Education issued guidance clarifying when student bullying may violate federal law, distributed a memo outlining key components of strong state anti-bullying laws and policies and made clear to public schools that gay-straight alliances have a right to form and meet.
- The Department of Education published guidance and, in coordination with the Department of Justice, has pursued Title IX complaints filed by LGBT students experiencing harassment based on sex or sex stereotyping.
- OPM added gender identity to the equal employment opportunity policy governing all federal jobs.
- The Department of Labor issued guidance clarifying that an employee can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a same-sex partnerâ€™s child.
- The IRS clarified that domestic partners (and their children) can be designated beneficiaries for VEBA funding/payment purposes.
- The Census Bureau overturned the Bush administrationâ€™s interpretation of the Defense of Marriage Act and agreed to release data on married same-sex couples along with other demographic information from the 2010 Census.
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‘Violent, Vain, Boasting Oafs’: GOP’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus Brutally Dismantled by Historians as ‘American Fascists’
On Saturday, Newsweek profiled a number of historians outraged at the effort by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to create an “America First” congressional caucus that would defend “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”
Grand View University associate professor of medieval history Thomas Lacaque did not mince words: “These American fascists have no relation to Anglos or Saxons, the terminology is clearly chosen on far right lines. They do remind me of Beowulf, though —violent, vain, boasting oafs who think killing is governance and will die doing dumb shit leaving the nation in ruins.”
“There is no such thing as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ political traditions’ unless Margorie [sic] Taylor Greene is talking about Old English charters and she isn’t,” wrote University of Toronto medieval scholar Mary Rambaran-Olm. “If she wants to return to those, she’ll have to stop advocating for gun use. ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is being weaponized by the far-right.” She added that the very term “Anglo-Saxon” is a “racist dog-whistle, inaccurate and generally sucks balls.”
The new caucus, which Greene co-founded with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and has attracted membership interest from Reps. Barry Moore (R-AL) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), has even drawn criticism from other Republicans.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responded to the news by saying, “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.” And Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a frequent critic of Trump loyalists, has called for any Republican who joins the caucus to be stripped of committee assignments and expelled from the Republican conference.
Image via Facebook
Pompeo, Huckabee, Benham Brothers Top List of New ‘Fellows’ as Liberty University Rebrands Culture War Arm
Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center—until recently known as the Falkirk Center—announced its new class of fellows Thursday, making it clear that the organization may have a new name but it has not abandoned its purpose of promoting the religious right’s “biblical worldview” in culture and public policy. The new fellows are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Arkansas Governor and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, anti-abortion rights activist Abby Johnson, and brother anti-LGBTQ culture warrior duo David and Jason Benham.
Earlier this year, the university ditched the Falkirk name, presumably to distance the center from its disgraced co-founder and former president, Jerry Falwell, Jr. It has also said goodbye to its earlier crop of fellows, which included Falkirk Center co-founder Charlie Kirk, president of right-wing youth organization Turning Point USA; Jenna Ellis, a Trump attorney who now hosts her own TV show, unironically called “Just the Truth”; pundit, conspiracy theorist, and so-called Stop the Steal activist Eric Metaxas; and Steve Bannon acolyte and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.
Executive Director Ryan Helfenbein remains in place. As Right Wing Watch noted in December, when the center celebrated its first anniversary, Helfenbein touted the organization’s aggressive posture, saying, “We don’t just want to be an organization that barks; we want to be an organization that bites.” The center bragged that it had “consistently encouraged churches and pastors to defy” pandemic-related “lockdown orders.” Among the center’s first-year accomplishments was “Get Louder,” a “faith summit” held last September, which included Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar on a panel moderated by Metaxas.
The Standing for Freedom Center’s new fellows have the credentials one would expect for a religious-right center that aims to bite:
Mike Pompeo used his position as secretary of state to promote the religious right’s agenda at home and abroad. He created the Commission on Unalienable Rights—which has been repudiated by the Biden administration—to create justification for a narrow view of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. As secretary of state, Pompeo opened doors in other countries for a Bible study ministry that teaches public officials that the Bible requires them to back right-wing social, economic, environmental, and criminal justice policies. Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar worked to create a new global “pro-family” coalition of anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice regimes and to celebrate governmental enforcement of “traditional” religious values on gender, sexuality, and family. Pompeo is a longtime religious-right favorite who, as a member of Congress, promoted Christian nationalism and associated with anti-Muslim activists. Axios reported this week that Pompeo is “pouring money” into a new PAC called Champion American Values in apparent preparation for a 2024 presidential run. Update: “Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times, a government watchdog has determined,” Politico reported Friday.
Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016, has remained active in religious-right politics since turning to punditry after his failed 2016 campaign. The former Arkansas governor is the honorary chairman of the religious-right get-out-the-vote operation My Faith Votes, which was active in the 2020 elections, including the Georgia Senate runoffs. Huckabee spoke at the Falkirk “Get Louder” summit last year and appeared on an Intercessors for America call in September, where he warned that if conservative Christians didn’t turn out to vote, the government would force churches to shut down. He also appeared in “Trump 2024: The World After Trump,” a religious-right “documentary” that promoted Trump’s reelection. Last year, Huckabee said, “Redefining gender and sexual identity is the ‘greatest threat’ to the moral fiber of America,” and blamed the existence of transgender people on Christian churches’ failure to teach a “biblical standard of maleness and femaleness.” Huckabee has railed against the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and has claimed that the president could criminalize abortion without a Supreme Court decision or constitutional amendment. Huckabee’s daughter, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is running to follow in her father’s footsteps and become the next governor of Arkansas.
Abby Johnson is an anti-abortion rights activist who spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and participated in the so-called Stop the Steal campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Johnson has become a religious-right superstar with her disputed story—dramatized in the movie “Unplanned”—about having worked for Planned Parenthood before having an epiphany about abortion. The day before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Johnson spoke at the D.C. rally at which Stop the Steal’s Ali Alexander led cheers of “Victory or Death!” Johnson told the crowd she was there “to defend the most pro-life president we have ever had in the history of the United States.” She said that she is tired of “compromise,” which she said “has led to our houses of worship being unconstitutionally closed for months and months.” In her speech at the Jan. 5 rally, she shamed American Christians for not doing more to shut down clinics that perform abortions, saying, “It is time, patriots, to stop worrying about offending your neighbor and start worrying offending the heart of God.” She also targeted COVID-19 vaccine research, saying, “Shame on us for accepting and peddling vaccines that were produced on the back of aborted babies.” And she exhorted, “It’s time to rise up. It is time to fight back. It is time to be bold. Enough! Enough of these cowardly leaders!” Johnson once said it would be “smart” for police to racially profile her adopted biracial son because “statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”
David and Jason Benham. The Benham brothers became religious-right folk heroes and martyrs to “political correctness” in 2014 when HGTV canceled plans for a television show starring the duo after Right Wing Watch and others reported on their anti-LGBTQ activities. The brothers, who have repeatedly portrayed the “homosexual agenda” as aligned with Satan, were actively involved in pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation in North Carolina in 2016; they had earlier called for the Charlotte city government to deny permits for LGBTQ pride events and organized an anti-gay prayer rally when the Democratic National Convention was held there. The brothers are also active opponents of reproductive choice. In 2017, a month before they appeared at the Values Voter Summit—not for the first time—they said that hurricanes striking the U.S. were a warning for the country to repent for “breaching the boundaries of God” on gender, sexuality, and marriage. That summer, they declared, “Discrimination against gay people simply does not exist.” Earlier that year, the pair said they would skip the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Lady Gaga, warning, “The vine of Sodom has pierced and penetrated our nation at one of the biggest sporting events of the year.” The Benhams initially backed Sen. Ted Cruz for president in 2016 and joined a campaign advisory council that recommended that a President Cruz roll back federal job protections for LGBTQ people. In 2015, David Benham spoke at the supposedly “nonpolitical” prayer rally organized by Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and railed against the LGBTQ movement and the church for not doing enough to stop it.
In other news, on Thursday, Liberty sued Falwell for $10 million, alleging that he “withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses,” the New York Times reported. The lawsuit also alleges that Falwell failed to disclose his “personal impairment by alcohol.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus
“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”
After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.
McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.
In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.
It did not go well.
The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”
It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.
One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”
Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.
“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”
The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.
Here’s what some are saying.
Imma let you finish, but…
No, actually, I’m not.
The seditious flotsam dragging behind the sewage barge of national populism is a nativist dog whistle set to ear-splitting volume. https://t.co/OAxVXzFstg
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 16, 2021
“Dog whistle”? That suggests subtlety, and Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn’t that subtle. https://t.co/JlXNIyP25m
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) April 16, 2021
LITERALLY LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT THIS UTTER BULLSHIT.. LOUD, SO LOUD IT SCARED THE DOGS
WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THAT PAST HALF CENTURY??? https://t.co/LfbECHGvP4
— Shannon in Ohio 4 (@ShannonFreshour) April 16, 2021
Wait, is this dipshit dog whistling a dog whistle? https://t.co/A8L6EXHBwI
— Ollie McClellan (@OllieMcClellan) April 16, 2021
Gosh, might want to send a memo to your caucus on that https://t.co/SDR8oe2gso
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) April 16, 2021
Is this a parody account? – the modern GOP protects statues of confederate traitors who would have killed lincoln and GOP supporters run around with confederate flags https://t.co/uNrgVybsiw
— Steven Strauss (@Steven_Strauss) April 16, 2021
Did you hit your head?!
— Rachel Bitecofer 📈🔭🍌 (@RachelBitecofer) April 16, 2021
If America was built on the idea that we were all created equal, why did we have to add amendments for black people and women to make it law for them to be treated equally?
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) April 16, 2021
Then why did you fight so hard to keep the person whose nativist dog whistles inspired this window-dressing tweet on the House Education and Labor Committee? https://t.co/blvG04w7Qo
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) April 16, 2021
Are you sure you understand what a nativist dog whistle is? Because your whole party blows that whistle.
— susanelizabeth (@Imfrommichigan) April 16, 2021
this my friends is some extremely weak sauce https://t.co/xtyqJDbWLW
— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) April 16, 2021
The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin. https://t.co/l5FqUPg53E
— Lisa Senecal (@lcsenecal) April 16, 2021
Man leading the White Party suddenly realizes he’s in the White Party. Well good luck with that, Sparky 👍 https://t.co/Fmzfxgt9Rr
— Joe Remi (@JoeOfTheNorth) April 16, 2021
@ them, Leader McCarthy. Show some courage.
— Brandon Wolf (@bjoewolf) April 16, 2021
Lincoln would have nothing to do with you jackasses. https://t.co/bNPWU16sSY
— Robert Ellingsworth (@BY1959) April 16, 2021
They aren’t whistling it anymore. They are shouting it. https://t.co/CaHhUj91oH
— Simon Lester (@snlester) April 16, 2021
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