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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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
‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help
While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.
Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.
“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”
He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”
Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 16, 2021
But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.
Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”
Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”
On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:
As HR1/S1 moved closer to passage, this is a tactic to watch for in a number of red states. It shows how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections.https://t.co/yTZ94oUuZH
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 15, 2021
After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:
There's lots that can be done in the careful drafting of these election reform measures that can bolster their constitutionality. Hopefully when there is a proposal with a serious chance of passing, election law scholars will be consulted.
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) April 16, 2021
Image via Shutterstock
Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University
Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.
“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell 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. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.
But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.
“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”
“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.
“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.
The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”
Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.
In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.
“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.
But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.
“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
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