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Breaking: Hawaii House Passes Same-Sex Marriage, To Become 16th Equality State



Same-sex marriage has been all but totally secured in the Aloha State. In a 30-19 vote late Friday night in Honolulu — Saturday morning on the mainland’s East coast — the Hawaii House passed marriage equality, becoming the 16th state in the nation to extend the institution to same-sex couples. All that remains is for the Hawaii Senate to approve the changes the House made to the legislation, and for Governor Neil Abercrombie to sign it — which he has promised to do. The bill, once signed, would go into effect December 2.

Debate on the actual marriage bill Friday began after more than seven hours of debate on amendments attempting to derail the bill.

In announcing his support for SB-1, the same-sex marriage bill, Democratic Rep. Tom Brower, a Christian, told his colleagues, “I urge Christians to be more concerned with the actions of people calling themselves ‘Christians’ than with gay people calling themselves ‘married.'”

Rep. Nicole Lowen took a few minutes to officially correct those who made false statements in their testimony. She reminded the chamber that “gay is not a lifestyle,” and that HIV/AIDS is not caused by homosexuality, “it is a virus.”

Rep. Chris Lee, who received a death threat last month over his support for marriage equality, also spoke eloquently in support of the bill. “It’s time we move forward,” Lee said, “once more.” He compared marriage equality to women’s suffrage, racial equality and to interracial marriage. “I choose to err on the side of fairness, on the side of freedom, on the side of aloha, on the side of love.”

Rep. Kaniela Ing, who just two days ago delivered a heart-warming and heart-wrenching speech, explained how he came to embrace equality. Ing told the stories of Matthew Shepard, and of others, more recent, who have, or are struggling under inequality. He was close to tears at one point, and had to grab his speech off his desk for support. “How many more gay people must God create until we realize he wants them here?,” Ing asked repeatedly.

But of course the bill was not supported unanimously.

Rep. Jo Jordan, who on Wednesday became the first openly-gay elected official to vote against same-sex marriage, cemented that legacy Friday night when, in tears, she declared she had to vote against the final bill. Jordan decried those in the LGBT community who, she said, did not show her support, while she embraced members of the faith community who supported her and offered her love.

And even the state house itself was physically divided, separating marriage equality supporters and marriage equality opponents.

The path to equality is never easy, and this state’s battle was possibly one of the hardest fought of all those obtained through a state legislature.

Opponents attempted a “people’s veto,” which extended testimony in the House alone into almost 60 hours, across five days, which followed a week of testimony and proceedings in the Senate.

All told, the process itself, which ran for two weeks, was packed solid with hearings, debates, hopes, drama, lines, love, frustration, vitriol, amendments, presidential urgings, death threats, NOM testimony, verbal attacks, “mob rule” protests, heart-warming speeches, rallies, cheating scandals, “you would have to kill me” threats, prayer, Mormon Church interventions, charges of NOM violating election law, fake NOM ads, chanting, threats to “to shut this whole thing down,” a flashmob dance, and even, yes, finally, votes.

While same-sex marriage protestors continued their week-long chants of “let the people vote!,” House Representatives in solidarity with the equality opponents made almost 30 attempts to scuttle the marriage bill.

Those attempts, totaling 29 this week, were in the form of poison-pill amendments, attempts to extend religious “conscientious objector” status to any person in Hawaii who opposed same-sex marriage — effectively offering a license to discriminate on demand — and many other amendments crafted to both delay the vote and to “protect” those opposed. All 29 throughout the week, most of them on Friday, were voted down.

Often, anti-gay lawmakers kept pointing to the “momma bear” mothers, and their “keiki” — their children — as if, somehow, as one lawmaker claimed earlier in the week, they needed to be “inoculated” against same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers claimed passing same-sex marriage would force teachers to teach gay sex, and some, primarily Representative Ward, falsely claimed Massachusetts taught children that heterosexual relationships were unhealthy. One astute colleague pointed out the sheer inaccuracy of Ward’s claim.

Other failed amendments would have allowed businesses or people to deny same-sex couples housing or lodging, allowed parents to “opt-out” from having their children learn about same-sex marriage, to allow teachers to “opt-out” of teaching about sme-sex marriage, and to allow businesses or people to claim religious objection and not provide spousal benefits despite public accommodations laws.

The most active lawmakers to oppose the marriage legislation seemed to include Rep. Sharon Har, Rep. Gene Ward, Rep. Marcus Oshiro,and Rep. Bob McDermott, who has a lawsuit that will go into affect as soon as the governor signs the bill into law, possibly scuttling the entire effort.

Rep. Har, who offered a great many of what she called were “friendly amendments” at one point claimed the same-sex marriage bill was an “attempt to regulate thought.”

Lawmakers in the chamber on Friday opposed to the bill dug deep into the language of the legislation, drawing and dissecting every nuance, attempting to divine every “unintended consequence” — and pretending to care what those effects on same-sex couples would be.

Once all the amendments were offered, debated, and voted down — a seven-hour process — debate on the actual bill began.

In the end, with more than 12 hours of debate in the final day, the vote was called and same-sex couples and their families were given a much brighter future in the Aloha State.


Image, top, by MichelleBVD via Instagram

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‘On Standby’: Experts Say Manhattan Hush Money Grand Jury Delay ‘Not All That Surprising’



In a last-minute surprise move the grand jury examining the Manhattan District Attorney’s hush money case against Donald Trump was called off after being told to show up Wednesday afternoon, leaving some to wonder why. Many anticipated jurors would be voting on a possible indictment of the ex-president, one he wrongly claimed would come on Tuesday.

“The grand jury has been told to stay home today. They’re on standby for tomorrow,” an unnamed senior law-enforcement official said, Politico reports. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told Politico, “We can’t confirm or comment on Grand Jury matters.”

Meanwhile, CNN’s Paula Reid reports, “Sources tell CNN that prosecutors have been in touch with an attorney for at least one witness, and they signal that they’re leaving the door open for that witness to potentially come back to give additional testimony.”

“One of the big questions right now is whether this grand jury has actually completed its investigation or whether they will need to hear from additional witnesses.”

READ MORE: Jim Jordan’s Attack on Manhattan DA Will ‘Backfire’ and Allow Democrats to Expose Coordination With Trump: Columnist

Reid says it’s also possible prosecutors are “taking a moment to really consider the historic weight of indicating a former U.S. president.”

Experts are offering insight on the delay, with some pointing to tying up “loose ends,” others suggesting security concerns, and others say delays like this are to be expected.

Top national security attorney Brad Moss commented on Reid’s CNN report, saying: “Interesting. Makes sense.”

Overnight, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance wrote, “Wherever the truth lies about what’s going on in Manhattan, that timeline suggests there may not be an indictment tomorrow or even this week.” After news that the grand jury would not meet Wednesday broke, she pointed to that remark and wrote: “This now looks like it will be the case.”

That echoes a little noticed Fox News report from Monday that indicated any possible indictment would not come before next week.

READ MORE: Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President

A law enforcement “source said law enforcement does not expect the former president to be arraigned until next week as the Manhattan grand jury – which has been meeting secretly to hear evidence for weeks – has another witness on Wednesday. A virtual option was apparently ruled out as the DA is opposed to it.”

Could security be the reason for the delay? On Tuesday, award-winning reporter Carol Leonnig said law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” said Leonnig, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”

Former New York prosecutor Tristan Snell, who successfully helped prosecute the New York Attorney General’s case against Trump University, pointed to security measures as a possible reason for the delay.

“Most likely reason: all the law enforcement coordination and security logistics that are being worked out, including with NYPD and Secret Service,” Snell offered. “They don’t want to indict and then have a long gap between indictment and arrest/arraignment.”

He also noted, “part of the security is to ensure the GRAND JURORS themselves — 23 regular New Yorkers, doing their civic duty — are protected from a defendant who incites violence.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said: “Based on what we know publicly, there are plenty of loose ends that prosecutors may need to tie up, so delay is not all that surprising.”

Watch the CNN video above or at this link.


Image: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock

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Jim Jordan’s Attack on Manhattan DA Will ‘Backfire’ and Allow Democrats to Expose Coordination With Trump: Columnist



Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan‘s unprecedented attack on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg this week will “backfire” on the GOP, according to a Washington Post columnist who spoke with House Democrats.

Chairman Jordan, who has no constitutional oversight authority over an elected county district attorney, demanded Bragg hand over documents and communications and testify before Congress about his criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s hush money payoffs and business practices. Some believe an indictment could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

“If Jim Jordan and MAGA Republicans attack the Manhattan DA’s potential indictment of Trump, Democrats will use the proceedings to draw attention to coordination between House Republicans and Trump’s legal team, Dems tell me,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent said Wednesday via Twitter. “This will backfire on the GOP.”

Sargent adds House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin told him: “This is an extreme move to use the resources of Congress to interfere with a criminal investigation at the state and local level.” Raskin likened “GOP ‘political culture’ to ‘authoritarian dictatorships.'”

READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter

Sargent says Democrats “can use this against the GOP.”

He adds: “Trump’s lawyer sen[t] a letter to Jim Jordan urging an investigation into any charges against Trump, the NYT reports. Dems will use any hearings that Jordan holds to shed light on coordination between Trump’s legal team and House Republicans, aides tell me.”

In his Wednesday Washington Post opinion column Sargent calls on Democrats to “marshal some serious creativity in response” to Republican attacks.

“The extraordinary move by House Republicans to insert themselves into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of Trump provides Democrats with an opening to do just that,” he says.

Sargent says “it’s not clear that Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chair, has thought this through. The course of action signaled by the letter — also signed by Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) — could go sideways for Republicans in unforeseen ways.”

READ MORE: US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill

Raskin is an attorney, constitutional law professor, and was the lead impeachment manager for the second impeachment of Donald Trump. He has become a leading voice for American democratic values and in the fight against the MAGA Republicans.

“If and when there is an indictment, we will be able to reconstruct all the facts of this case in a way that makes sense to the American public,” Raskin told Sargent, who explains: “The aim, he noted, would be to ‘show the justice process is working, and there is no call for extraordinary intervention by the U.S. Congress.'”

Sargent warns, “A Trump indictment will unleash months of information warfare around a numbingly complex matter never before litigated in the public arena. Democrats sometimes undervalue the importance of sheer creativity in politics, and as ugly as the GOP response has been, Republicans are responding to unprecedented circumstances with new innovations. Democrats must meet them on that battlefield.”

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US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill



U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is publicly denouncing Uganda’s latest Anti-Homosexuality legislation, which is being called a “Kill the Gays” bill for its capital punishment penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The legislation passed in a nearly-unanimous vote and now heads to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni‘s desk.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Secretary Blinken said via Twitter Wednesday morning.

Uganda, a far-right religious country has a long history of targeting and marginalizing its LGBTQ citizens, including passing a modified “Kill the Gays” bill that was signed into law in 2014, only to be overturned in court on a technicality. That law was drafted and promoted with the aid of American far-right evangelicals.

READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case

Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation that makes being LGBTQ illegal, proscribes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, and decades or life in prison for identifying as LGBTQ. It also requires anyone with knowledge of another person being LGBTQ or engaging in same-sex acts to be reported to the government.

“All but two of the 389 legislators voted late on Tuesday for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and ‘recruitment, promotion and funding’ of same-sex ‘activities’,” The Guardian reports.

“A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” the bill states.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in a statement warned: “If the bill is signed into law, it will render LGBTIQ+ people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”

READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter

One of the two Ugandan Members of Parliament who voted against the bill, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, calls it “ill-conceived,” and says parts are “unconstitutional.”

He says it “reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalises individuals instead of conduct that contravenes all known legal norms.”

President Museveni, who signed into law a modified version of the 2014 “Kill the Gays” bill, will now have to decide if he wants to sign this version as well.


Image: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

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