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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‘DEFCON 1 Moment’: Former Obama Advisor Slams Republicans Who ‘Hate Democracy’ and Warns It’s ‘Hanging by a Thread’
“This is an existential threat”
David Plouffe, former President Barack Obama’s campaign manager and White House senior advisor, slammed Republican lawmakers who “hate democracy,” which he warned is “hanging by a thread.” He also urged the Dept. of Justice to be “all over” the recount on Arizona, but warned the white supremacists, QAnon and MAGA cultists have already decided that Trump won the state, despite the actual facts that Joe Biden won, a fact that Republicans in positions of power agree with.
“This is a DEF CON 1 moment for democracy,” Plouffe told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. “We’re not threatened by other nations or enemies, it’s a threat from within. Democracy is hanging by the thinnest thread in our country’s history. And what’s happening in Phoenix, Arizona, should be happening across the board of Roswell, New Mexico,” he added, apparently mocking Area 51 conspiracy theorists.
“It’s just crazy town. ”
“By the way there’s no question that the end of this ridiculous theatricality of the collection of white nationalists and QAnon supporters and Trump cult members are going to say, ‘you know, Trump should have won Arizona.’ We already know the outcome. But this is deadly serious. The Department of Justice needs to be all over this not just in Arizona, but all these efforts around the country.”
Plouffe called it “puzzling” because “you’ve got all these Republican elected officials who are in office because they chose to participate in the theater of democracy, and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen people in America hate democracy this much, because basically what they want to do is enshrine themselves in power and they’re doing it because they’re fearful of this ridiculous, shameful, historically incompetent cult leader down in Mar-a-Lago, who they all traipse down there and pledge allegiance to,” he said of Donald Trump.
“And none of them got into politics because they thought they were going to be weak-kneed and bending the ring to a cult leader but that’s where they’ve found themselves. Issues are secondary, their own careers in many respects are secondary.”
“Everybody who’s concerned about this country, not about who wins the next election or the one after that, but the entire enterprise is at risk here. This is an existential threat. And so it’s great to see DOJ, getting involved, to see a lot of groups like Mark Elias’ are starting to file lawsuits, but what ultimately needs to happen here and this won’t solve all of it is Congress must act.”
“They must pass voting rights legislation, and if they don’t because a few Democratic senators decide that protecting the filibuster, which of course has its roots in slavery and racism, you’re going to basically protect that, so that our democracy and our country can be handed over in permanence, to a party that increasingly is comfortable with white nationalism,” Plouffe said, it would be “tragic.”
“This is a DEFCON 1 moment for democracy. We’re not threatened by other nations or enemies, it’s a threat from within. Democracy is hanging by the thinnest thread in our country’s history… The Department of Justice needs to be all over this” – @davidplouffe w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/yZWrBzvvcP
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) May 6, 2021
Shadowy Right Wing Group One Step Closer to Overturning Arizona City’s New LGBTQ Civil Rights Protections
A group hiding behind a two-page website that lists no actual persons or physical address has submitted enough signatures to get a repeal of Mesa, Arizona’s new LGBTQ civil rights protections law onto the ballot for the November 2022 election.
According to news reports no one seems to know who founded United for Mesa, a Political Action Committee created days after the Mesa City Council passed the non-discrimination ordinance. The website lists an email address, phone number, and P.O. Box.
“Give the People a Voice,” the website urges, meaning they believe citizens should vote on civil rights, something studies show overwhelmingly ends with the majority voting to deprive the minority of equal rights. It also claims the “Mesa City Council just passed an ordinance WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF MESA RESIDENTS,” which is false. In a representative democracy, citizens elect leaders to make these very decisions for them.
Calling the group “below-the-radar, with no official leaders or posted public meetings,” the East Valley Tribune reported last month that “Unofficial leaders like Barbara R. Parker rallied like-minded troops via Facebook and other outlets.”
“Thank you to every petition signer and gatherer who helped save Mesa!” Parker posted Thursday night.
“Thank the Lord! I have never seen so many people working so hard to get signatures,” wrote Paula Smith in a comment to Parker’s post. “It’s been amazing! I’m so thankful everyone’s hard work paid off!”
“Thank you everyone for going the extra distance, so we may all have a voice in such an important decision,” added Charmon Puhlmann, a bus driver for Mesa Public Schools.
Political consultant George Khalaf’s firm, The Arizona Republic reports, “is leading the referendum effort against the ordinance,” but it does not mention what, if any, relationship he has with United for Mesa.
Last year the Arizona Capitol Times reported Khalaf was a political consultant to Republican state Representative Nancy Barto, in an article discussing an anti-transgender bill.
An email to United for Mesa did not receive a response by press time.
‘It’s Not National God Day’: Pat Robertson’s Reporter Mocked for Attacking Biden’s National Day of Prayer Proclamation
David Brody, a political analyst for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), is getting criticized for attacking President Joe Biden’s National Day of Prayer Proclamation. Brody, a Trump acolyte, slammed the proclamation because it doesn’t include the word “God.”
President Biden’s proclamation clearly was written to be as inclusive as possible, something he has strived to achieve with nearly everything he does.
“Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance,” Biden a devout Catholic, says in the document. “Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements — including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans. Prayer is also a daily practice for many, whether it is to ask for help or strength, or to give thanks over blessings bestowed.”
He goes on to talk about the First Amendment protecting “the rights of free speech and religious liberty, including the right of all Americans to pray.”
But that wasn’t good enough for Brody, a far right wing Christian, who appeared to believe that the proclamation should honor only Christians.
Joe Biden’s National Day of Prayer Proclamation has been released and it doesn’t even mention God once! How do you release a proclamation about prayer and not mention God at all? Of course it mentions climate change & racial justice. Truly, this is pathetic…and not surprising! pic.twitter.com/czOQx3ioHj
— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) May 6, 2021
Former Trump personal attorney Jenna Ellis chimed in, replying to Brody with this slur:
Who is he praying to?? The BLM gods?
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) May 6, 2021
On social media Brody was blasted.
Why, it’s almost as if America is a nation in which there are some people who believe in God and others who don’t, and he wants his language to be inclusive of everyone rather than exclusive to theists.
— Dr. James G. Gilmore (@jamesggilmore) May 6, 2021
Which god of the over 4200 religions?
Joe respects everyone’s religious beliefs, not just yours.
You should give him and everyone else the same amount of respect. pic.twitter.com/hMDYuxCUpB
— John Birchman 😷 ⬅️6️⃣➡️ (@johnbirchman) May 6, 2021
I see that “the divine” is mentioned. Why is that not good enough for you? Do you believe in divinity?
— Middle Molly: Fully vaccinated plus SIX weeks! (@MiddleMolly) May 6, 2021
Because not everyone in this country is from the same religion, genius.
— hondo64ou (@hondo64ou1) May 6, 2021
It’s “National Day of Prayer” not “National God Day”. Not everyone prays the same way.
— ArabSnowflake (@AnisahMichael) May 6, 2021
A national Day of Prayer is not about promoting a specific expression of faith but about prayer as an activity in which each individual connects with their transcendent dimension in order to align themselves with their highest values and wisdom and receive the grace of acceptance
— Constance (@jconstance61) May 6, 2021
The clue should be “many religions”. It’s a message meant to be all encompassing, not to exalt one religion alone. Biden speaks to all Americans, not just those who worship your preferred deity.
— The Dragon of East Rock is half vaxxed (@eastrockpark) May 6, 2021
It’s about the National Day of Prayer not “National Day of God” so it’s pretty easy to figure out why it repeatedly references prayer & doesn’t need to mention God.
Easy, unless of course you’re steeped in faux outrage in an effort to rile people up. Not very Christian of you.
— Brent (@brenticles42) May 6, 2021
No, it actually does not, and THAT is the point. He’s president for everyone, not just Christians.
— Mark Sniadecki (@MarkSniadecki) May 6, 2021
Which god should Joe Biden have mentioned?
— Dr Robin 😷 (@Robinindfw) May 6, 2021
Because not all of us pray to a god?
— Josh Jakob Architect (@JJakobDesign) May 6, 2021
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