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An Open Letter To Joe Solmonese About Teaparties, Taxes, Cabbages, And Kings

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Wrong Fight At The Wrong Time In The Wrong Place Surrounded By The Wrong People

Dear Joe,

For several months, Conservatives have been the willing butt of many “teaparty” jokes, by, pretty much most of the country. They’re really excited about playing dress-up and pretending to be Paul Revere, or 1773 pre-Revolutionary War Sons of Liberty left-overs. And for the past few days, my friends and I have had a blast, watching Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox ridicule Conservatives and their teaparties. I’m sure you saw them last Thursday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. Who hasn’t watched that clip of “Insanitea” over and over and over! It’s become such a joke that even Anderson Cooper last night on his show said, “It’s hard to talk when you’re tea bagging.” Yeah, it’s been good times!

So, imagine my anger when I got your “Stop unfair taxes on lesbian and gay families!” email, asking gays and lesbians to “head down to your local post office April 15 to talk to people in line and any members of the media who show up.” It’s the wrong fight, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, Joe. This is wrong on so many levels. I would say I can’t even begin to tell you, but I’m going to.

Today, April 15th, Conservatives will be holding “teaparties” on the steps of post offices around the country, hoping to rally support against what they perceive as an “oppressive Obama administration” and against what they see as unfair taxes. Taxes, I might add, that go to support the very programs that help our community, programs that Conservatives would cut first, given the chance, programs championed by those who support our cause the most.

Programs like 1-800-RUNAWAY, the federally-funded National Runaway Switchboard. Joe, as you know, while only a small percentage of all youths are gay, approximately 40% of all runaway youths are gay. 40%. Gay teens are up to four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. We learned just last week of an eleven year old boy who committed suicide because he suffered taunts and threats from other students who made fun of him, insulted the way he dressed and called him gay.

Even when money exists for LGBTQ programs, money from taxes, Conservatives want to take it away. In 2006, in Southeastern Nebraska, Conservatives rallied to deny a small grant that would go to help LGBTQ youth, “saying it was controversial and “causes grief” to use tax dollars to fund gay and lesbian issues.” Protesting against taxes is not the right fight for us right now.

Let the Conservatives rally against cabbages and kings. Let us not be seen railing against an administration that is reaching out to our community and is providing us with the best chance at true equality we have ever had. An administration that, albeit far too slowly, will act to repeal DOMA and DADT, and enact ENDA.

I love my country, Joe. I love our rich and activist history. I love the idea of the Boston Tea Party. Good for those guys! Without their courage, we might not be here today. But, like many things they touch, today’s Conservatives have corrupted the very essence, and purity of meaning that the original Tea Party represented.

These tea parties (teaparties that are being organized not at the grassroots, but behind the scenes by a group funded by Westinghouse Corporation, Prudential Insurance, and AETNA, among others,) are attended by the very people who hate our community the most. The people who hate “liberals” the most. The people who hate gays the most. People like Alan Keyes, and Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Malkin, and religious extremists and secessionists. To copy their inane rhetoric and actions puts us in the wrong game, on the wrong field, next to the wrong players.

What will we have gained, when the local TV station in Des Moines, in Boswell, in Fremont, in New Haven, shows ten-second clips of the LGBTQ community standing on the steps of their post office, next to rallying right-wing Conservatives who don’t believe Barack Obama is an American?

Putting us in the same venue as those who openly advocate against us, while letting the media mistake our presence as being part of the Conservative Teaparty is just a bad idea. What little exposure we might gain is not worth the risk of being accused of palling around with teaparty terrorists. Our presence merely will be taken as a show of support for those who hate us, our agenda, and our recent successes. What helps them hurts us. Contributing to their turnout hurts us. Via GayPatriot:

“The Tea Party movement is currently on track to be the largest genuine grassroots movement America has seen since the Sixties. We don’t know yet whether it will be such a grassroots movement, but it could be. We’ll have a better idea on Wednesday when reports from across the country start coming in. If on a weekday, these protests attract more than 224,000 people, we’ll know there really is something to it. A quarter-million participant would suggest it’s more than just a flash in the pan.”

Why risk credibility with a protest hastily-organized on the coattails of our detractors that will merely give them the ammunition they need to say of our fight, “It’s not about marriage, it’s about money.” Joe, with the possible exception of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said, “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization”, no one enjoys paying taxes. That “same-sex couples pay an average of about $1000 more in taxes than their opposite-sex counterparts” no doubt is true. We are, as a friend wrote to me on Twitter, “paying *more* than straight people to a government that classifies us as second-class citizens.” This is entirely unacceptable.

I believe in, and fight for LGBTQ equality every day. I want equal rights for all Americans, regardless of gender, orientation, or race. But the fight we don’t need to have today is one of economics. It’s not a fight we can win right now. The Right knows this. They’ve been marketing to us for decades. And given all the challenges the Right has thrown at us over the years, parts of the LGBTQ community are desperately in need of the support of civilization these days.

We are coming off of an historic week. Our wins in Iowa, in Vermont, and in D.C. will go down in history. The world, literally, is watching. Watching as yet another American civil rights movement spreads its wings. Last week gave hope to millions of Americans. Hope that said, in the words of our president, “Yes we can.” Yes we can actually win the rights we so richly deserve. The civil rights. The “unalienable rights”. The moral rights. We need to let the world know that these are the rights we’re fighting for. Economic rights come with moral rights. Not vice-versa.

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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History

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For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.

Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.

“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”

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The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:

“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”

A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.

While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)

Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.

“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the  president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”

TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”

Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”

“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”

Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.

Image via Shutterstock

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George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation

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U.S. Rep. George Santos is angered a man interviewed for a staff position in his Capitol Hill office secretly recorded the conversations, claiming it “violated the trust that we had in him.”

The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.

“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”

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“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”

Regardless, Santos is taking action.

The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.

Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.

“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.

It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.

Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)

 

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‘They’re Not Taking My Gas Stove’: Joe Manchin Teams Up With Hard Core Republicans to Promote False Claims

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is again promoting the false claim that the federal government is planning to remove gas stoves from private homes, after news last month revealed once more the open-flame appliances are responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of children’s asthma.

“They’re not taking my gas stove out,” said Manchin, who has made millions from coal and protects his state – which  ranks in the top five for production of natural gas – at every turn.

Manchin, a rare breed of conservative Democrat, announced in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he is teaming up with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford to fuel the unfounded fears of the federal government coming to rip gas stoves out of Americans’ homes – fears promoted by the right.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)

“Gas stoves have been in the news lately and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” Manchin declared, despite there being no possibility of that. “In fact, I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure that they don’t and separately sending a letter to the commission with Senator Lankford.”

“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency,” Manchin continued, “but the draft proposes efficiency levels that DOE [Dept. of Energy] says at the highest level, up to 96% of gas stoves don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this and I tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove put. My wife and I would both be upset.”

Manchin went on the claim the Biden administration is “looking to find ways to push out natural gas.”

And he warned the feds to stay out of his kitchen.

“Like I said before,” Manchin declared, “the federal government doesn’t have any business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”

The federal government does have a responsibility, by law, to warn Americans of health and safety issues in their homes. For decades it has been doing just that.

But the West Virginia Senator went even further, stating: “retrofitting or removing stoves that people have had for years is not going to happen.”

Manchin isn’t just blowing smoke – he has a lot at stake in the “gas stove war.”

READ MORE: ‘Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands’: GOP Vows ‘Stove War’ Legislation, Doesn’t Want Feds ‘Coming After Kitchen Appliances’

“West Virginia is the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas in the nation,” according to a federal government December report.

“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action,” The New York Times reported last year. It called the West Virginia Democrat “the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.”

Watch Sen. Manchin below or at this link.

 

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