In a clear effort to stall repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, twenty-three Republican members of the 435 member U.S. House of Representatives sent President Obama a letter Thursday asking that he delay certification of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) to allow Congress time to “review.” But their efforts are clearly in vain, as they are all but powerless now to stop the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Despite the fact that the House included three anti-gay amendments in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Senate Armed Services Committee just elected to remove them, and no anti-gay amendments are expected to be in the final version of the NDAA when it goes to President Obama’s desk, once it passes the Senate.
â€œAs predicted, the Senate Armed Services Committee has remained focused on serious military issues and has refused to waste time and taxpayer money trying to delay or stop the repeal of the â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ law,â€ said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United. â€œThe leader of last yearâ€™s efforts to keep the â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ law on the books sits on this committee, yet no one even tried to introduce a companion amendment to the ridiculous House amendments. This just goes to show that this debate is settled and that Congress needs to focus on the serious issues of the day instead of being distracted by Congressman Duncan Hunterâ€™s circus sideshow over in the House.â€
Nicholson notes that the “House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed on May 26, contained an amendment introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-52) that would delay certification of the repeal of the â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ law, and other amendments that would restate and expand the Defense of Marriage Act. The new Senate Armed Services Committee markup would also repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice â€“ the militaryâ€™s outdated sodomy law.”
Of the 240 Republican members of the House, it is rather embarrassing that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was able to organize less than ten percent of his colleagues to put their names on a letter, not in the interest of national defense, but clearly in the interest of upholding bigotry and animus.
â€œGiven the necessity for congressional review, which has been limited to this point, we respectfully request that you refrain from transmitting certification until Congress has had sufficient time to review pending legislative matters of policy and law,â€ Â the Washington Blade reports the letter states.
“Leading the group of U.S. House members who signed the letter is Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who amended pending defense budget legislation to expand the certification requirement needed for â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ repeal and potentially disrupt the implementation of open service.
“Others among the 23 signers of the letter are Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), chair of the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee, as well as Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), W. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.).”
â€œMerely providing â€˜training and educationalâ€™ briefs to our service members is not enough to justify moving forward with certification when consequential policy and regulatory changes associated with implementation must be reviewed by Congress under its oversight function,â€ the letter states. â€œUntil those policy changes have been delivered and reviewed by Congress, it would be irresponsible to proceed with the certification process.â€
Earlier this week Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he saw no reason why certification of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal couldn’t move forward this month, and have implementation complete by the end of September.
In another development of note, the Senate Armed Service Committee’s press release on the NDAA states that the bill “Amends Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) relating to the offenses of rape, sexual assault, and other sexual misconduct, to create three separate articles of the UCMJ to correct deficiencies in existing law.”
Earlier this year, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, the Pentagon was sued in a rape and sexual assault class-action lawsuit.Â A bipartisan bill to support the 19,000 annual military victims of sexual assault in the United States Armed Forces was introduced in April.
No word yet on if that notation in the Senate press release relates specifically to those issues.
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‘Don’t Say Gay’ Florida GOP Lawmaker Quits One Day After Pleading Not Guilty to Federal Felony Fraud Charges
Joe Harding, the Florida Republican state representative who authored the highly-controversial and some say unconstitutional “Don’t Say Gay” law has just resigned, one day after pleading “not guilty” and assuring his constituents on social media he is working “for a fair and just resolution” to federal felony fraud and money laundering charges.
Harding’s resignation also comes one day after he was stripped of his committee assignments, and is effective immediately, Florida Politics reports.
The charges involve a COVID-related Small Business Administration loan for $150,000, according to the Dept. of Justice, which notes if convicted on all charges he could get 35 years in prison.
“I want the public and my constituents to know that I fully repaid the loan and cooperated with investigators as requested,” Harding told his constituents via Facebook on Wednesday. “On advice from counsel, I will be unable to say anything more specific about the legal proceedings until a later date and refer any questions or concerns related to this matter to my attorney. I ask that you keep me and my family in your prayers as we work for a fair and just resolution. Thank you, and may God bless you.”
Also on Wednesday Harding shuttered his Twitter account.
In another statement Harding wrote: “To my many colleagues that have reached out to me, including many I have deep policy disagreements with, thank you. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve alongside you for the past two years.”
Florida Politics notes Harding ended his statement with a bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11-12. That verse can have several different meanings depending on the version of the Bible.
Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded to news of Harding’s resignation via social media: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”
Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.
“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics notes. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”
Worse Than It Looks: On the Same-Sex Marriage Bill Many More Republicans This Time Really Showed Up – to Vote No
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Respect for Marriage Act a second time, approving even stronger religious liberty protections after the legislation was changed in the Senate. But this time was different – this time Republicans really showed up, in even bigger numbers, to vote no.
And it’s worse than it looks.
The bill once again did pass, and will now be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
But how we got here does not bode well for the future of civil rights.
On July 19, the bill passed the House 267-157, with 47 Republicans voting yes and all 157 no votes also coming from Republicans.
On Thursday the bill passed in a 258-169 vote, with just 39 Republicans voting yes and all 169 no votes again coming from Republicans.
Just looking at the overall vote totals, comparing the vote in July to the vote on Thursday, it’s easy to think eight Republicans (47 minus 39) switched their yes vote to no.
It’s a bit more complicated.
And it’s the no votes that are striking. Because in reality, this time a lot more Republicans voted no.
Eight Republicans who did not vote in July showed up this time to vote no. Only one who did not vote in July voted yes on Thursday.
Another six Republicans switched their vote from yes in July to no on Thursday.
Two who voted yes in July did not vote on Thursday.
One switched from no to yes.
One switched from yes to present.
One who voted no in July is now deceased.
Republicans on the House floor on Thursday made their message clear.
Republicans like Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, a former anti-LGBTQ activist who worked for an organization created to block same-sex marriage. She literally cried own the floor begging her colleagues to vote no. And Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, who said practically everything wrong in society can be traced back to same-sex marriage.
Here’s the breakdown. (If they are not listed they voted no.)
Here’s how we get to eight fewer yes votes:
Bentz Republican Oregon Yes to No
Mast Republican Florida Yes to No
Meuser Republican Pennsylvania Yes to No
Perry Republican Pennsylvania Yes to No
Salazar Republican Florida Yes to No
Van Drew Republican New Jersey Yes to No
Owens Republican Utah Yes to Present
Kinzinger Republican Illinois Yes to Did Not Vote
Zeldin Republican New York Yes to Did Not Vote
Herrera Beutler Republican Washington No to Yes
Here’s how we get a lot more no votes:
Babin Republican Texas Did Not Vote to No
Burchett Republican Tennessee Did Not Vote to No
Diaz-Balart Republican Florida Did Not Vote to No
Finstad Republican Minnesota Did Not Vote to No
Hartzler Republican Missouri Did Not Vote to No
Lucas Republican Oklahoma Did Not Vote to No
McKinley Republican West Virginia Did Not Vote to No
Miller (WV) Republican West Virginia Did Not Vote to No
Gallagher Republican Wisconsin No to Did Not Vote
Sempolinski Republican New York New Member to No
Yakym Republican Indiana New Member to No
Brady Republican Texas No to Did Not Vote
Walorski Republican Indiana No to deceased
Kellyanne Conway Serves up Some Alternative Facts About Herschel Walker’s Failed Election Bid
Kellyanne Conway, a political strategist who also served as White House advisor to former President Donald Trump, recently delivered critical remarks leveled at Republican senators.
According to Conway, Republican lawmakers did not stand behind Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker in the days leading up to the state’s highly publicized election runoff.
Walker, who was endorsed by Trump, lost the election by less than 100,000 votes.
On Wednesday, December 7, Conway appeared on Fox News’ “Hannity” where she voiced her concerns about the election.
According to Mediaite, Conway also “railed against Walker’s fellow Republicans for abandoning him.”
“To the 49 Republican senators, where were most of you?” Conway asked while appealing to other Republican lawmakers to support members of the party. “Why weren’t you in Georgia?”
“They all should have been because they should’ve been there in some form, town hall, in person, saying the following: ‘I serve in the United States with Raphael Warnock. He’s a terrible senator. He doesn’t represent Georgia. He’s not fit to serve. He votes with Joe Biden. He voted for the Inflation Reduction Act that doesn’t do that. He said nothing when they pulled out of Afghanistan. He said nothing that Joe Biden has been to Delaware 174 days and down to the border zero days.’ That’s what needs to happen. Where were the other senators to say, ‘I want Herschel Walker, not Raphael Warnock in the Senate with me?'”
Conway’s remarks come shortly after another prominent conservative went on a rant about Walker; however, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) perspective is starkly different from Conway’s.
Speaking to far-right influencer Steve Bannon, Greene said that Walker’s campaign rarely reached out for assistance; something she describes as “insulting.” During the interview, Greene insisted, ″They only asked me a couple of times in my own district, which I find extremely insulting.”
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