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Barney Frank Doubles Down, Defends Calling Gay GOP Group ‘Uncle Tom’

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Rep. Barney Frank has just released a lengthy, scathing statement defending comments in which he called gay GOP groups, especially the Log Cabin Republicans, “Uncle Tom,” during the Democratic National Convention. The U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, who is 72 and retiring at the end of his term, told attendees at the most attended LGBT caucus in DNC history, “I’m … inclined to think they’re called the Log Cabin Club because their role model is Uncle Tom,”

Acknowledging his words last week as “admittedly very harsh criticism,” Frank did not back down, and noted he is “offended” by the Log Cabin Republicans who are “campaigning in the name of LGBT rights.” Rep. Frank also expanded his statement, explained his reasoning, and contrasted the Democrats and Republicans on LGBT issues:

The Democratic President and platform fully embrace all of the legal issues we are seeking to resolve in favor of equality.  The Republican candidate for President and the platform on which he runs vehemently oppose us in all cases.

Congressman Frank noted, of the Log Cabin Republicans:

On the face of this, for a group of largely LGBT people to work for our strong opponent against our greatest ally is a betrayal of any supposed commitment to our legal equality.

Below, in full, is Congressman Frank’s statement:

I am not surprised that members of the Log Cabin Republicans are offended by my comparing them to Uncle Tom.  They are no more offended than I am by their campaigning in the name of LGBT rights to elect the candidate and party who diametrically oppose our rights against a President who has forcefully and effectively supported our rights.

That is the first reason for my admittedly very harsh criticism.  This election is clearly one in which there is an extremely stark contrast between the two parties on LGBT rights.  The Democratic President and platform fully embrace all of the legal issues we are seeking to resolve in favor of equality.  The Republican candidate for President and the platform on which he runs vehemently oppose us in all cases.  On the face of this, for a group of largely LGBT people to work for our strong opponent against our greatest ally is a betrayal of any supposed commitment to our legal equality.

But my use of “Uncle Tom” was based not simply on this awful fact that they have chosen to be actively on the wrong side of an election that will have an enormous impact on our right to equality, both in fact and in the public perception of the popularity of that cause.  If the Log Cabin Republicans – or their even more outlandish cousins, the oddly-named GOProud –were honestly to acknowledge that they let their own economic interests, or their opposition to strong environmental policies, or their belief that we need to be spending far more on the military or some other reason ahead of any commitment to LGBT equality, and on that ground have decided to prefer the anti-LGBT candidate to the supportive one, I would disagree with the values expressed, but would have no complaint about their logic.

The damaging aspect of the Log Cabin argument, to repeat the most important point, is that they may mislead people who do not share their view that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than LGBT rights into thinking that they are somehow helping the latter by supporting Mitt Romney and his Rick Santorum platform.

It is a good thing for Republicans to try to influence other Republicans to be supportive of LGBT rights.  The problem is when they pretend to be successful when they haven’t been, and urge people to join them in rewarding the Republicans when they have in fact continued their anti-LGBT stance.  I have been hearing the Log Cabin Republicans proclaim for years that they were improving the view of that party towards our legal equality.  In fact, over the past 20 years, things have gotten worse, not better.  Most recently, on DOMA, when the House Republicans offered an amendment to reaffirm it, they voted 98% in favor of it, while Democrats voted more than 90% against the amendment.  And it is not surprising that they have not been successful.  Giving strong political support to people who are maintaining their anti-LGBT stance is hardly an effective strategy for getting them to change it.

The argument Mr. Cooper and the others in the Log Cabin Republicans have put forward in their defense is that they have succeeded in getting the Republicans to reduce the extent to which they denounce us, and, in Mr. Cooper’s phrase, the fact that Paul Ryan is “willing to engage” with gay Republicans.  That is where Uncle Tom comes to mind.  They are urging people to vote for the anti-LGBT candidate over the most supportive LGBT candidate and platform imaginable because the “antis” are calling us fewer names and are willing to talk to some of us.  It is this willingness to acquiesce in a subordinate status as long as the masters are kinder in tone, although in substance, that emulates Uncle Tom.

I note Mr. Cooper points to a couple of Republicans as reasons for supporting that party and helping advance its anti-LGBT crusade.  As to Representative Ryan, in addition to his “willingness to engage with them,” Mr. Cooper cites his vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.  In fact, Paul Ryan has an overwhelmingly anti-LGBT voting record, including opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and a transgender-inclusive hate crimes bill, and support for a constitutional amendment not just to ban future same-sex marriages but to dissolve existing ones.  It is true that on one occasion he voted for ENDA, but he did so only after voting minutes before for a Republican procedural maneuver – a motion to recommit the bill – which falsely invoked the specter that passage of ENDA would compel same-sex marriage and which, if it had passed, would have killed the bill.  In other words, Paul Ryan has always voted against us, except for one occasion when he voted for us only after first trying to make the bill he theoretically supported inoperative.

Mr. Cooper also cites Susan Collins.  She was very good on the question of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  But the argument that supporting Susan Collins advances LGBT rights ignores the fact that Senator Collins has twice defeated Democrats who were far more supportive of our issues than she was.  And an example of that is the current referendum in the state of Maine on marriage.  We have a very good chance of winning in Maine, and winning a referendum is important both for the substantive rights of the people in Maine and for the political point that it demonstrates.  Unlike the two Democratic Representatives from Maine, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, Susan Collins has been stubbornly silent.  That is, in a state where marriage is on the ballot, and in a year in which she is not up for reelection, Senator Collins is withholding her support from us, unlike any Democrat who would have run against her.  And remember, these are the best that the Log Cabin Republicans can cite.

Some have complained that in comparing the Log Cabin Republicans to Uncle Tom, I was ignoring the fact that they are nice.  I accept the fact that many of them are nice – so was Uncle Tom – but in both cases, they’ve been nice to the wrong people.

Veteran journalist Michelangelo Signorile interviewed Rep. Frank last week. You can read excerpts and listen to the full interview at The Huffington Post.

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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.

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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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