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22 LGBT Advances That (Probably) Will Disappear Under A President Romney

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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 president won’t 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:

Regulations

The Administrative Procedures Act provides safeguards against politically motivated policy switches. 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. 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.  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.
  •  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 — and subject to the will of — 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, launched stopbullyingnow.com.
  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently released new 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards.  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 individual’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 “members of a family residing in one household” 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 employee’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 partner’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 administration’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.

SOURCE: HRC

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Whatever Side Bet on Stupid Won Big’: Steve Schmidt Scorches Marco Rubio for ‘Kernels of Imbecility’ on Balloongate

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The Chinese spy balloon traversing the United States last week with its intelligence-gathering systems disabled by the Pentagon until it was shot down over the ocean a few days later on orders of the Commander-in -Chief brought out the worst in Republicans, especially U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who serves as the Vice Chair of the Intelligence Committee, says political strategist and Lincoln Project founder Steve Schmidt.

Rubio toured the Sunday shows yesterday, using the balloon to try to paint President Biden as weak over a balloon that multiple reports say posed no threat to the U.S.

Schmidt attacked Rubio’s “silliness and vapidity,” lamenting that, “a serious matter has been taken and twisted into kernels of imbecility by an American politician who routinely lies, dissembles and accuses his opponents of being enemies, while treating adversaries with delusion and disregard.”

READ MORE: ‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’

“Marco Rubio believes the balloon was a deliberate provocation aimed at showing the world that America is a decaying superpower that will never meet its treaty obligations and defend Taiwan, Japan, Korea or the Philippines. The proof of this is the helplessness of America as the balloon floated overhead. Rubio’s position seems to be rooted in pretending the balloon wasn’t actually shot down — which of course it was,” Schmidt said in his Substack newsletter, pointing to the Florida Senators appearance on ABC News Sunday morning.

Sen. Rubio also went on CNN, claiming that President Biden should have gone in national television to address the American people to talk about the balloon – which posed no threat to the U.S., especially after the Pentagon minimized its surveillance capabilities.

“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t do that, and that is the beginning of dereliction of duty,” Rubio claimed.

Rubio was part of the GOP attack on President Joe Biden over the balloon, which was not the first balloon to spy on the United States – several did during the Trump years, but that administration either kept it quiet or was unaware, The Washington Post reports.

READ MORE: Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told CBS, ‘I think this entire episode telegraphed weakness to [President] Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese government,'” The Post noted.

On Saturday U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) unleashed a series of rapid-fire tweets, making remrks like, “Was Biden concerned with upsetting his friends and Hunter’s business partners over in China when assessing the Chinese spy balloon?” and, “Almost 48 hours after public discovery, the Chinese spying balloon has been shot down. It makes you wonder, would Biden’s Department of Defense have shot it down if the American people hadn’t found out?”

Observing Rubio had many topics to choose from on Sunday, Schmidt noted he “could have talked about the staggering Chinese naval arms race that has created a fleet with more warships than the US Navy, though with a fleet far less capable. He could have talked about the vulnerability of a US fleet carrier to a precision hypersonic missile, and questioned whether the age of the carrier might be ending, given its enormous capacity for staggering casualties. He could have talked about the Chinese submarine program, or they’re out of control espionage activities in the United States.”

“Rubio chose to do none of those things. Instead, he chose to fearmonger over a balloon.”

Schmidt continued.

“Maybe the ‘decline’ Rubio is talking about is evidenced by Rubio talking. Maybe the ‘decline’ that the Chinese were watching was America’s political and media ‘decline.’ Maybe they wanted to see the stupidity play out second by second like an MRI scanning a body injected with contrast dye. Maybe they wanted to settle a debate between two factions of American observers and predictors who disagreed on how we would respond. One thing is for sure: whatever side bet on stupid, won big.”

“The silliness and vapidity of Marco Rubio and his colleagues were certainly exposed by the balloon. They absolutely demonstrated a lack of capacity to measure up in a real crisis. They also demanded a response that will give the Chinese a chance to reciprocate the favor. That happened in 2001, in the months before 9/11. Like now, the event was regarded as a distraction, but was it?”

Watch the video above or at this link.

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Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

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The powerful Koch network is taking a stand against Donald Trump heading into the 2024 election cycle, and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough examined the historical parallel to the Tea Party insurgency a decade ago.

A memo released by Americans for Prosperity shows the conservative heavyweights will oppose the former president’s GOP primary bid after a lackluster showing by Republicans in the 2022 midterms, and the “Morning Joe” host said that reminded him of the Koch brothers taking on the right-wing Tea Party movement.

“The fact the Koch network, so powerful in the Republican Party, is saying, ‘Hey, we don’t usually get involved in primaries but we’re getting involved now,'” Scarborough said. “It reminds me so much of 2014. I don’t know if you remember 2010, Tea Partiers had a massive time, 2012, more Tea Party type candidates were getting nominated, and Republicans started losing races they should never have lost statewide. In 2014, the Koch network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other sort of mainstream Republican outfits said, ‘Enough.’ They started getting involved in early primaries. I remember an Alabama one being a special election very early on where they said, ‘We are going in and stopping this craziness and madness.’ That’s what they did.”

READ MORE: GOP faces ‘potentially catastrophic problem’ if Trump loses nomination: conservative

“Looks like that’s what the Koch brothers or the Koch network is looking to do now,” Scarborough added. “It’s one thing when politicians say Donald Trump shouldn’t run again. Explain how powerful and how important the Koch donor network is to the Republican Party in deciding who is going to be the next nominee.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

 

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‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’

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A man who says he was hired by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as a congressional staffer, told he had to be listed as a “volunteer” until his paperwork was processed, then subsequently told his job offer had been “rescinded” nine days later despite having worked several days during that time, is now accusing the embattled New York GOP congressman of ethics violations and sexual harassment. He is calling for both a congressional and a police investigation.

In a two-page letter to the House Ethics Committee dated Friday requesting an investigation, Derek Myers alleges Rep. Santos invited him to a karaoke club on his second day of work, then “proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”

He says Santos then told him, “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over” and told him where he lived.

READ MORE: ABC Host Pops Marco Rubio’s Balloon Rant: It ‘Happened Three Times’ Under Trump

Myers is also asking the congressional investigation examine his being told he had to work as an unpaid volunteer while being offered a full-time job, which he says is a violation of House ethics.

He says he has filed a police report.

In his letter (above) which he posted to Twitter, Myers says was interviewed by Santos, offered the job on Monday, January 23, asked by Santos’ chief of staff to come into the office the following day.

“On Wednesday. January 25, I was alone with the Congressman in his personal office going over mail correspondence from constituents and making my recommendations for which letters we should respond,” Myers’ letter reads. “The Congressman earlier in the day had asked me if I had a Grindr profile, which is widely-known as an LGBTQ+ social networking app, more commonly used for sexual intercourse. The Congressman shared with me that he, himself had a profile.”

Myers says Santos called him “buddy” and “insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa.”

READ MORE: Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed

“I proceeded to move forward with the discussion about the mail, but the Congressman stopped me by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee and saying, ‘Hey buddy, we’re going to karaoke tonight. Would you like to go?’ I kindly declined the invitation by telling the Congressman I was not a fan of clubs and bars and that I was not a good singer,” the complaint reads.

“The Congressman proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin. He proceeded to look at me and say, ‘My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over’ and went on to tell me where the Congressman lived. I quickly pushed the Congressman’s hand away and grabbed the mail from the table and proceeded to discuss the topic of constituent correspondence. Shortly thereafter, I left the personal office and returned to my desk.”

He alleges the following Monday, one week after being made the offer of employment, he was asked about his background as a journalist. He says on Wednesday, February 1, “I was informed that my job offer was being rescinded.”

The New York Times reports, “Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.”

“There’s no corroborating evidence whatsoever,” Myers told CNN. “It’s simply going to be his word against mine.”

Santos is currently facing at least three federal investigations, including for allegedly absconding with thousands of dollars raised to save a veteran’s dying service dog, and for campaign finance issues.

Myers was in the news last week after sharing what he says were conversations with Santos he recorded. Talking Points Memo published some of that audio and reported some of Santos’ statements to Myers, including, “Stop going to Colombia for your diluted Botox.”

Santos claimed the recordings “violated the trust that we had” in Myers.

TPM also reported on Myers’ background, which Santos allegedly used to terminate him.

“A local news reporter from Ohio, Myers faced unusual criminal charges last year after he published surreptitiously recorded audio of courtroom testimony that he said he obtained from a source. The criminal case, which is in limbo, sparked a national outcry from press freedom organizations who rushed to his defense,” TPM says.

“It was quite a mesmerizing feeling to be in that proximity to power,” Myers told TPM. “Not only was I working with a sitting congressman, but I would see all these other U.S. senators and congressmen and women who I would only see on the news walking through the basement.”

He also told the news outlet of the “dream that drew Myers to Santos: a potential book or Hollywood project.”

“George Santos is making history,” Myers told TPM. “There’s gonna be a book about it. There’s gonna be a movie about it.”

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