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Comment: Harold Ford’s Treatment No Better Than Tea Party Protests

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Harold Ford’s reception tonight at New York City’s LGBT Center, which hosted the Stonewall Democrats’ event at which Ford was invited to speak about his stance on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, was little short of a mob scene. Protesters, organized by “The Power,” an LGBTQ advocacy group that has worked tirelessly — albeit with tactics at times well-intentioned yet ill-advised –  to further the civil rights cause for all LGBTQ Americans, turned this event into Tea Party style politics.

Protesters brandished bold signs labeling Ford, “Liar,” “Anti-gay Liar,” and “Snakeoil Harold.” But it wasn’t their brandishing of signs, it was their bellicose voices, shouting, interrupting — all of which were criticized by the Stonewall Democrats leadership, to no avail. At every opportunity, protesters shouted down Ford, who clearly wasn’t capable of withstanding the half-hour verbal abuse in a hot, stuffy, small meeting room.

It was demeaning and disrespectful to Mr. Ford, it was demeaning and disrespectful to the Stonewall Democrats, it was demeaning and disrespectful to the LGBTQ community, and worse of all, it was demeaning and disrespectful to our national political debate.

One could argue that Ford’s stance and “flip-flopping” on gay rights are just as demeaning, and to that I would agree.

Make no mistake. I am fully on record as being adamantly opposed to Harold Ford, period, whether he chooses to run for New York’s U.S. Senate seat, or for any other office. I’ve written close to a dozen pieces against him. And his poor performance and clear lack of understanding of basic issues tonight merely proves my point.

Ford is bad for New York. Not because of his poor understanding of LGBTQ issues, but because of his poor understanding of all the issues, including his poor understanding of his own record — which is, needless to say, also poor.

However, the man was a guest in our home, and he was treated as a despot, a tyrant to be overthrown and burned at the stake. There was no way Ford was intellectually capable of changing any heart or mind in that room — even before he arrived. His poor commentary made that clear from the outset. His lack of preparation merely reinforced the obvious fact that he’s not capable of serving the people of the state of New York. The protesters should have merely given him the opportunity to speak, knowing he would do himself more damage than they ever could.

Ford, if anything, may have gained slight political advantage tonight, if only by garnering the sympathy of the less-informed and the anti-gay voting bloc. They, too, won’t believe he’s changed. They’ll see he’s no “fierce advocate,” and they already know Gillibrand is. And they’ll see how he was treated and actually feel sorry for him.

Michael Crawford, who was instrumental in helping Washington, D.C. gain marriage equality, tonight wrote,

“The shouting down of Harold Ford is another example of gays acting out rather than acting smart.”

I agree.

Even Queerty, itself famous for poor manners, had this to say,

“The event wasn’t just unfriendly to Ford; it was rude.

So, allow us to take a moment to address that: Shouting over the invited guest? Demanding he “go home,” when you’re the ones who bothered showing up to an event you knew he’d appear at? If you want to protest him, fine, but at least let him speak. We’d expect the same for our own. This was uncalled for and makes New York’s gay community look intolerant and juvenile — the same things we accuse others of being.”

The only ones who looked worse than Ford tonight were the members of the unruly, angry, rude, nasty mob that interrupted Ford’s speech with cries reminiscent of Joe Wilson’s “You lie!,” followed by, “You’re a liar,” “Go back home to Tennessee!” and “Anti-choice! Anti-gay! Snake Oil Harry, go away!”

Seriously. Joe Wilson, Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin would have been proud tonight. Michelle Malkin, especially, I’m sure is thrilled. Another “Gay marriage mob” story for her pen to twist.

But I, for one, am not proud.

This “protest” wasn’t “civil disobedience.” There was nothing civil about it at all.

I’ve spent the past year and a half working twelve to eighteen hour days, sometimes seven days a week, trying to educate, communicate, and illustrate why equality for the LGBTQ community is the right thing for America. I’ve immersed myself and invested my life in this movement. No one can say I’m anything if not a dedicated activist to this movement and a tireless supporter of LGBTQ rights and of our community.

But I do not support the ranting and raving tactics and tantrums of an angry mob who put their anger and, yes, their hatred, above the larger picture of public perception and optics, and civil discourse and debate.

Wrestle Ford on the facts, in a civil debate, and we gain the upper hand. Wrestle him to the ground, and we look like schoolyard bullies.

Ironically, today in a piece I wrote for Bilerico, I said,

“There are many roads to reach our success. I will not fight anyone for trying. I will for not.”

While I won’t fight these protesters, I will voice my opinion.

Tonight, these protesters made us look bad and Harold Ford look, well, better than he deserved to. Tonight, these protesters hurt our efforts. Tonight, I, for one, was embarrassed.

When we’ve sunk to the level of those we despise, like the Tea Partiers who disrupted the health care debates all summer, or like Congressman Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during President Obama’s joint session of Congress, when we’ve sunk so low that we emulate their tactics, we’ve lost the upper hand, our integrity, the support of the public, and we’ve given the opposition a win.

Next time, folks, let’s be the bigger party. Not the Tea Party.

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Virginia School Districts Furious After Youngkin Flip Flops on Promise to Allow Local Boards to Decide Mask Mandates

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For months Virginia’s incoming Republican governor has been promising he would neither mandate masks in schools nor ban school districts from requiring them.

“Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) will not outlaw local COVID-19 mandates when he takes office in January,” reported the far right wing website Daily Wire back in November.

Local ABC affiliate 8 News, also in November reported, “Youngkin won’t try to block local mask, vaccine mandates like other Republican governors.”

Glenn Youngkin was sworn into office on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Business Insider reports that on Saturday, after Youngkin was sworn into office, he “signed an executive action that banned schools from requiring that students wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, instead allowing parents to decide when their children wear masks during the school day.”

Youngkin’s first act as governor was to sign eleven executive orders. Among them: effectively banning any mask mandates in schools across the state, by allowing parents to opt-out for any reason or no reason.

In other words: flip-flopping on his promise.

Youngkin is using his Lt. Governor to threaten angry school districts. Fox News’ John Roberts:

Pundit and political analyst Bill Scher:

Youngkin made a big deal over the weekend claiming schools have to “listen to parents” and if they oppose his mask ban they aren’t listening to parents.

Gov. Youngkin is the one not listening.

In poll after poll after poll after poll Virginia parents make clear they support mask mandates in schools, and Virginians overall support mask mandates, period.

 

 

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Top Democrats Renew Call to End Anti-Gay Blood Ban as Red Cross Announces First-Ever National Shortage Crisis

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Last week the Red Cross issued its first-ever warning of a blood shortage so dire it is calling it a “national crisis.” In response 22 top Democratic Senators signed a letter urging the FDA to once and for all end the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.

The nearly four-decade old ban was instituted during the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 2015 the FDA reduced the complete and total ban to one where gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men could donate blood if they had abstained from sexual activity for one year. In 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic raged, threatening blood shortages, the FDA moved to a three-month prohibition.

“If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” warns the Red Cross, citing a 34 percent drop in supply, CBS News reports.

“Any policy that continues to categorically single out the LGBTQ+ community is discriminatory and wrong,” the group of 22 top Democrats, led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), say in their letter. “Given advances in blood screening and safety technology, a time-based policy for gay and bisexual men is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude an entire group of people, and does not meet the urgent demands of the moment.”

Blood Shortage MSM Donor Deferral Letter FDA HHS Jan 2022 Final by David Badash on Scribd

 

Image by ec-jpr via Flickr and a CC license

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PARTNERING WITH HATE AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT GROUPS

‘Unprecedented’: Trump Tried to ‘Exert Extreme Partisan Influence Over the Census Bureau’ Docs Reveal

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The Trump administration tried to exert tremendous influence over the 2020 Census, which is now being used in a nationwide redistricting program, often handing Republicans even stronger gerrymandered congressional districts and in some cases attempting to dissolve districts of Democratic members of Congress, while eliminating some majority-Black districts.

Then-President Donald Trump was directly and possibly “illegally” involved, as The Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School’s nonprofit public policy institute, reports. The Trump administration also worked directly with an anti-immigrant group that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of nativist hate groups, a “think tank” devoted to anti-immigration efforts, and with an individual known for “promoting voter suppression efforts.”

“The Trump administration attempted to exert extreme partisan influence over the Census Bureau,” The Brennan Center reveals . It filed multiple Freedom of Information requests with at least ten federal agencies and was forced to sue the Trump administration when it unlawfully refused to produce the requested documents.

The Brennan Center adds that “career Bureau officials pushed back at those attempts. An email among senior officials at the Census Bureau from September 14, 2020, discusses the Commerce Department’s ‘unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.'”

“Other records suggest that the Commerce Department planned to have Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross [photo, above] make personal calls to Republican state governors to urge them to provide state administrative records to the Census Bureau to ‘enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.’ (The Brennan Center did not uncover evidence that Commerce planned to make similar calls to Democratic governors.)”

Citing a “a complete lack of public transparency,” The Brennan Center reports “President Trump issued a memo in July 2020 stating that he would illegally attempt to remove undocumented populations from the apportionment count due at the end of December 2020.”

The Trump administration collected or attempted to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data targeting usesrs of welfare programs from dozens of states: “28 states had entered into agreements to share Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) records with the Bureau, 21 to share Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) records, 30 to share Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) records, and three to share driver’s license data.”

Our FOIA records show Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, emailing directly with Secretary Ross in December 2019. The Center for Immigration Studies is an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant hate group that “has a decades-long history of circulating racist writers, while also associating with white nationalists.” The email also refers to a call from Secretary Ross.

The Center for Immigration Studies was founded by eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton.

“Commerce Department employees were also engaging with the anti-immigrant Heritage Foundation,” The Brennan Center adds. “An email chain shows a Commerce Department official putting political appointee Nathaniel Cogley into direct contact with Heritage’s Hans Von Spakovsky, an individual the Brennan Center has previously flagged for his extensive background promoting voter suppression efforts.”

 

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