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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Marjorie Taylor Greene Feels “Insulted” That Herschel Walker Didn’t Want Her Campaigning With Him
Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) recently complained that she should’ve been given a more high-profile role in the failed political campaign of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Herschel Walker.
Speaking on the War Room podcast of federally indicted anti-LGBTQ Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Greene said, “I was never asked very often by the Herschel Walker campaign to come speak at any of his campaign events.”
“He was campaigning all over the state, running for Senate, but they only asked me a couple of times in my own district, which I find extremely insulting,” Greene added.
“The audacity and really frank rudeness of the campaign consultants and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham where they thought, you know, ‘We’re going to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene away from Herschel Walker,'” she continued.
“I think it was really a major mistake and an insult to me and insult to people who support me and Republicans all over Georgia.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene said it is “extremely insulting” that the Herschel Walker campaign didn’t ask her to campaign statewide for him. pic.twitter.com/Vg58W6cT9d
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) December 7, 2022
Contrary to her personal beliefs, Greene’s advocacy probably wouldn’t have helped Walker’s scandal-ridden campaign.
During his unsuccessful run to become Georgia’s next senator, multiple women accused Walker of abuse, impregnating and abandoning his kids, and pressuring his former lovers to get abortions. These accusations were especially damning considering that Walker himself supports a total abortion ban.
While Greene has emerged as one of the loudest voices among congressional Republicans, she’s also among the most unhinged.
In her past social media comments, she has advocated for violence against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama, said that an airplane never hit the Pentagon during the September 11 terrorist attacks, claimed that all school shootings are fake, said that California wildfires were started by a Jewish-owned space laser, and accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of slicing off a child’s face and wearing it.
Her social media posts caused her to lose her House committee assignments early into her freshman year.
Meanwhile, Bannon is no stranger to scandal himself. He co-founded the right-wing news site Breitbart and was chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He also served as White House chief strategist and senior counselor to the president from January 2017 until August 18, 2017, when Trump fired him.
In August 2020, Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering connected to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, a $25 million GoFundMe crowdfunding, which claimed to be raising money to help Trump construct a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“She is the Worst”: AZ Senator Kyrsten Sinema Leaves the Democratic Party
After causing years of obstruction within her own party, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has announced she’s leaving the Democratic Party to register as an Independent.
“I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense,” she said in a Thursday CNN interview.
“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,” she continued. “Removing myself from the partisan structure… [is] true to who I am and how I operate. I also think it’ll provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.”
In a natural extension of my service since I was first elected to Congress, I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington and formally registering as an Arizona Independent. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/jUQHAeuxym
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) December 9, 2022
The move will make her the third Independent Senator in addition to Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I-ME). It also means that if she runs for re-election, she will face a Democratic and Republican opponent,
Contrary to her belief, Sinema’s move isn’t even a little bit surprising. Over the last two years, she has consistently alienated herself from her Democratic colleagues by obstructing votes on key Democratic legislative priorities.
She has given speeches on why it’s important to uphold Jim Crow-era filibuster rules in the Senate, even though the rules helped block important voting rights legislation and more.
Her antics, and her refusal to help stump for Democratic candidates during the latest midterm election cycle, have led to her being censured by the Arizona Democratic Party and low approval ratings amongst state Democratic voters. Top Democratic donor groups had also pulled their endorsements and funding from Sinema.
Twitter users were unimpressed with Sinema’s announcement.
Kyrsten Sinema switched to being an independent because she was never really a Dem and couldn’t survive an Arizona Primary. She also waited until after the GA runoffs so the Dems can’t celebrate 51 anymore. None of this is surprising but it is confirmation that she is the worst.
— brittany packnett cunningham. (@MsPackyetti) December 9, 2022
Don’t overthink Sen. Kyrsten Sinema switching from Democrat to Independent.
She’s not driven by ideology.
She’s driven by which corporations and lobbyists are giving her the most money — which makes her an elected mercenary, not an elected representative of the people.
— Melanie D'Arrigo (@DarrigoMelanie) December 9, 2022
In the most shocking, surprising, and unexpected news in modern American political history, Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party, which makes sense because 1) she was never really a Democrat, and 2) she can’t win a Dem primary in 2024. So Sinema being Sinema… https://t.co/3FoSZM8Mqu
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) December 9, 2022
Think about all the people in Arizona who worked so hard to elect Krysten Sinema as a Democrat only to be stabbed in the back now?!! I wish Sinema would resign so that once Democrat Katie Hobbs is sworn in as governor she could pick a Democrat for the seat!!
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) December 9, 2022
‘The Hypocrisy Is Just Absolutely Insane’: Morning Joe Slams GOP ‘Idiots’ for Criticizing Brittney Griner Release
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough bashed Donald Trump and other Republicans for their “absolutely insane” hypocrisy on the prisoner swap that returned WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian penal colony.
GOP lawmakers and conservative media attacked President Joe Biden for agreeing to free Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner, who had been convicted of possessing cannabis oil, and not former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was convicted of spying. The “Morning Joe” host ripped their complaints.
“The hypocrisy is just absolutely insane,” Scarborough said. “I mean, the same Republicans that were criticizing Joe Biden for not bringing Paul Whelan home failed to place blame on the man who was actually in the White House when Whelan was arrested illegally, jailed illegally. Why didn’t Donald Trump do anything in 2018 to get Paul Whelan home? Why didn’t he do anything in 2019 to get Paul Whelan home? Why didn’t Donald Trump do anything in 2020 to get Paul Whelan home? He was praising Vladimir Putin the entire time, why not actually call his buddy and ask him to release an American? I guess because he just didn’t give a damn.”
“Despite celebrating the releases of other Americans imprisoned while he was in office, Donald Trump didn’t publicly utter Whelan’s name even once as president,” Scarborough continued. “This is according to a review of public remarks and tweets, carried out by The Independent. Trump clearly had the power to negotiate a prisoner swap deal, however, never was this evident in 2020, when he negotiated with, get this, not with his friend Putin to get Paul Whelan home. He didn’t give a damn that Putin arrested Whelan and let him rot in jail. Instead, no, he was negotiating with the Taliban, and he freed up 5,000 Taliban terrorists. What did he get in exchange? Nothing, he got nothing in exchange and he wanted to actually invite the Taliban, the people who actually allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen, to be launched from their country, he invited them on Sept. 11 to Camp David.”
“When these idiot, and they are total idiots, when these idiots going around talking about Joe Biden being a bad negotiator, they are literally talking in defense of with Donald Trump — the biggest loser, the worst negotiator we have ever had,” Scarborough added. “He falls in love with dictators in North Korea, he completely kowtows to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, and he doesn’t even give a damn about Paul Whelan, lets him rot in jail for three years while Biden and [secretary of state Tony] Blinken and this administration are working their tails off to try to get him home.”
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