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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Trump Says He Will Make SCOTUS Nomination Next Week – Appears He Will Use Seat to Strengthen Where He Is Weak in Polls
President Donald Trump says he will announce his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “next week.”
He made clear his primary deciding factors will be to help him in the polls.
Trump told reporters Saturday afternoon “most likely” he will choose a woman.
CNN reports he is leaning towards choosing a woman mostly because he is doing poorly in the polls with women.
Trump spoke about two women judges. He talked about Barbara Lagoa, noting she is Hispanic and from Florida. He is struggling in the polls with Hispanics and in Florida.
Reporters also asked about Amy Coney Barrett, a far right wing anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ extremist. Trump spoke positively about her as well. Reports say she is the current frontrunner.
Trump: I can see most likely it would be a woman, yeah I think I can say that. pic.twitter.com/1csAZefqUF
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 19, 2020
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
Republican state leaders threaten violence in “coming war” with Black Lives Matter
This week, two local Republican leaders published and then deleted social media posts which threatened violence in an imminent right-wing clash against Black Lives Matter and Antifa (anti-fascist) activists.
First, Iron County, Utah commissioner Paul Cozzens published a now-deleted picture showing a soldier with a gun and the words: “Warning to BLM & Antifa—Once you’ve managed to defund & eliminate the police, there’s nobody protecting you from us. Remember that.”
— Jesse Harris (@elforesto) September 16, 2020
Cozzens later told Newsweek that he never supports violence against protestors but merely wanted to say that “If we defund the police, fathers and mothers will be forced to protect their families and properties which would descend us into anarchy.”
What Cozzens may not realize is that many Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists already believe that police do a terrible job protecting them from right-wing violence. Such activists have sometimes been subject to violence from the police themselves, bringing into doubt the whole question of whether police “protect” them from anything.
Second, Michael Brown — a Republican member of the Johnson County Commission in Kansas City, Missouri — published a now-deleted Facebook message in which he urged his followers to “buy a firearm and ammunition” for “the coming war” that is both “inevitable” and caused by left-wing police reform activists and Democratic leaders who are “silent” and “weak.”
“[This] isn’t a joke or hyperbole,” Brown wrote. “I’d rather fight and die than live in their dictated world.”
At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a local elected. Gross distortions; encouraging constituents to prepare for armed war w/political opponents?
This is reckless. This is racist. This is wrong.
Just stop. https://t.co/Zc50URHgEW
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) September 14, 2020
In response, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter, “At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a local elected. Gross distortions; encouraging constituents to prepare for armed war w/political opponents? This is reckless. This is racist. This is wrong. Just stop.”
Brown later said that he had made the post in response to Monday reports of a gunman who opened fire on a parked sheriff’s squad car, killing two officers in Los Angeles. Brown said he was “speaking out against violence and calling on other electeds, community leaders and citizens to do the same.”
Dept. of Education threatens to withhold $18 million from schools that let transgender athletes compete
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE), led by Betsy DeVos (pictured above), is threatening to withhold $18 million in federal funds from three Connecticut school districts unless they stop following the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports.
The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to the Groton, Hartford and New Haven school districts telling them that allowing trans students to compete in sports teams matching their gender identities violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a subsection of the law that requires federally funded institutions not to discriminate on the basis of sex.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has pledged to “vigorously oppose” defunding efforts, but the state’s Democratic Governor Ned Lamont has said he doesn’t want to lose federal dollars over the policy, potentially placing it at risk.
The anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently suing five Connecticut school districts over the same policy for the same reasons. The suit, brought by the parents of three cisgender female track athletes makes the same Title IX claims as the DOE and claims that trans girls have an unfair physical advantage which could prevent their daughters from advancing in competitions and winning college scholarships.
Earlier in her tenure, DeVos rolled back Obama-era protections allowing trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. She later admitted that she did this even though she knew that it could lead to increased harassment, depression, and possibly suicide among transgender students.
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