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DeMint To Obama: Stop Promoting Human Rights Protections For LGBT Communities Outside The United States

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Guest Author Andrés Duque shares another important story with The New Civil Rights Movement. It is cross posted from his own excellent site, Blabbeando, which should be on your regular reading list. We are always grateful to him for his excellent work, and especially grateful when he allows us to share it with our readers.

When President Barack Obama named Puerto Rican lawyer Mari Carmen Aponte as his choice to become the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador in 2009, the nomination ran smack into a wall set up by Republican Senators who simply refused to vote on a wide array of diplomatic candidates nominated by the president.

At preliminary hearings at the time, conservative South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint led the charge against Aponte raising several “issues” including ludicrous rumors that she might very well be a Communist infiltrator.

Facing an obstructionist Republican Senate, Obama waited until a congressional recess to pull several of the nominees out of the regular nomination process and use his presidential powers to appoint them as interim ambassadors.  That meant that they could immediately start serving as diplomats but would have to eventually face confirmation hearings at the end of the next calendar year from the date in which they were appointed.

Among those who were appointed for interim posts on August of 2010 was Aponte.

On a related matter, on June 27th of this year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held the third annual LGBT pride event to happen at the U.S. Department of State under her watch.

In an extraordinary speech before staff from the Department of State and members of the U.S. diplomatic corps, Clinton saluted their work on promoting respect for LGBT communities throughout the world. An excerpt from the full speech:

There is the tremendous work that our diplomats have been doing in regional and international institutions to strengthen a shared consensus about how governments should treat their citizens. And we’ve made the message very consistent and of a high priority. All people’s rights and dignity must be protected whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The very next day El Salvador’s La Prensa Gráfica published an opinion piece by Ambassador Aponte titled “For an end to prejudice, wherever it exists“.  An excerpt from the article (full translation at the end of this post):

Last March, before the Human Rights Council at the United Nations, the United States, El Salvador and eighty-three other nations signed a pledge to eliminate violence against members of the LGBT community; additionally, on May of 2010, Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes signed Decree 56 which prohibits all forms of discrimination by the government of El Salvador on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. I applaud efforts by the government of El Salvador in support of the LGBT community both on the national and the international level.

The OpEd drew an immediate and furious rebuke from a small but powerful group of right-wing conservative religious leaders from El Salvador and other Latin American countries.

On July 6th, ACI Prensa reported that 42 so-called “pro life” and “pro family” organizations from the United States and Latin America had signed a statement rejecting the opinion piece (“Civil groups energetically reject the gay ideology of the United States in El Salvador“).  A translated excerpt:

Aponte’s article is essentially a cover for those so-called ‘gay rights’ which are actually an attempt to disguise an absolute imposition of the LGBT lobby’s ideology on Catholic countries such as El Salvador – a position promoted by the Obama administration and by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular.

It’s a position taken as a ploy to impose gender ideology – which stems from the tenents of feminism and homosexual thinking – and use it to promote the idea that the differences between a man and a woman are merely social and not biological or based on nature.

As for the risks of such ideology being “imposed” on El Salvador by the United States? The actual statement released by the organizations made comparisons between the United States and the Roman Empire in the following way:

The fallen Roman Empire was considered to be modern and progressive.  Babies were aborted, newborns were murdered, and – similarly – people would engage in homosexual, bisexual and incestuous relationships, pedophilia, zoophilia and orgies. Such decadence weakened said empire and led to its fall.

Salvadoran cultural observer Marvin Aguilar took the homophobic religious doomsayers to task a week later in an OpEd that ran in La Página (“In consideration of what was said by the U.S. Ambassador“). A translated excerpt:

In the Tuesday, June 28th edition of La Pagina Gráfica, Mari Carmen Aponte wrote about the policies of the current U.S. president which which observe June as the month in which the United States commemorates LGBT pride.

She argued in favor of combating violence, hate and misconceptions about a specific community of individuals. She explained the efforts made by the current government she represents in understanding that the rights of homosexuals are Human Rights and described how [homosexuality] was no longer classified as a pathology or a perversion that should be corrected or silenced.

Nowhere in the text authored by the Ambassador did she refer to any intent by the government she represents to intervene directly in the culture, tradition and values of El Salvador.

Which brings us to this:  As an recess appointee, Aponte must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before the end of this year to be able to keep her post and, once again, Senator DeMint is the one leading the charge against her.  But now, instead of the Cuban infiltrator charges, DeMint is questioning Aponte’s strong support for the protection of LGBT communities in El Salvador.

From a November 8th confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee…

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pX_8Xk0yTow%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US

And a partial transcript…

I would like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record an opinion piece published in El Salvador by Ambassador Aponte in June of this year.  In her OpEd, Ms. Aponte, presuming to represent the view of all Americans, in strongly promoting the homosexual lifestyle, wrote that “everyone has the responsibility to inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” The OpEd upset a large number of community and pro-family groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s attempt to impose a pro-gay agenda in their country.

I would also like to ask unanimous consent to submit, for the record, a response to the OpEd from a coalition of more than three dozen groups and a letter from Salvadorean groups to the United States Senate asking the Senate to oppose Ms. Aponte’s confirmation and I quote “We respectfully request that Ms. Aponte be removed from her post as soon as possible so that El Salvador may enjoy the benefits of having a person as a government representative of your noble country.”

I would like to apologize to the Salvadorean people on behalf of the United States and reassure them that most Americans share their values. Ms. Aponte’s personal, professional and political contact over many years raises numerous questions of judgement. I will vote ‘no on Ms. Aponte’s confirmation and strongly recommend my colleagues do the same.

In an OpEd published the next day in the conservative website Human Events, DeMint singled out Aponte’s praise for Hillary Clinton (“Aponte’s Agenda“).

Aponte praised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her previous remarks that “gay rights are human rights” and also noted gay pride month is celebrated with “parades, festivals, and educational campaigns” in the United States where the gay rights movement “celebrates its identity throughout the country.”

That’s right.  Senator DeMint is urging the U.S. Senate not to appoint Aponte as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador based on an OpEd in which she saluted the government of El Salvador for their own initiatives to protect their LGBT populations.

Aponte, who was at the hearing, defended herself against DeMint’s accusations when she had a chance to reply. “The OpEd reflects the policies of the Obama administration, the Salvadorean government and sixty-three other countries,” she said to La Prensa, “It was not drafted as an insult to anyone.”

Salvadoran columnist Marvin Aguilar, in an OpEd column published in La Prensa on November 10th, described DeMint’s attempts at getting rid of Aponte as follows:

Catholic fundamentalists in El Salvador, skipping over historical papal lessons, have begun a Christian crusade to cleanse El Salvador of Mari Carmen Aponte. They say she is a destroyer of national family values, that she promotes heinous sinfulness and, in adition, some say that she even likes the arts.  Leave it up to us, the Latin American beggars, to be more papal than the Pope when it comes to defend conservative beliefs, customs and traditions which are – of course – shared by all Salvadoreans.

Love unites but hate also brings people together.  That’s the way that local Catholics with an European pedigree have built an alliance with Jim DeMint, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, who is – according to U.S. political analysts, the most conservative congressmember in the Senate. He is a member of the Tea Party and is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate.

In sharp contrast to Salvadorean Catholic leader Archbishop Escobar Alas, DeMint has promoted prayer in schools; in contrast with people from El Salvador, he is in favor of abortion when the life of a mother is at risk; he does not want undocumented Salvadoreans living in the United States and is in favor of deporting them unlike other Catholics; he supported the Iraq invasion and when he finally visited Honduras in 2009, he met with Roberto Micheletti even though our country had not recognized his de facto government.

Nobody is perfect, least of all politicians whether they are from the U.S. or El Salvador, but… What is someone who is a Protestant Baptist and the son of divorced parents doing creating alliances with Salvadorean Catholics who sustain that divorce is a sin? What sexual agenda unites them against Mari Carmen Aponte?

Senator DeMint has publicly said that gays, single mothers, heterosexuals in civil unions as well as sexually active persons should not be hired as school educators.  Similarly, he also has been and advocate that, if government does not have the authority or the legal tools to restrict homosexuality, it also should not be promoted through the legalization of gay marriage. And that is why he has echoed the tumultuous and sad complaints shouted to heaven by the increasingly strident Salvadorean Christian movement that has taken its lobbying activities to U.S. grounds.

Senator DeMint has said that his statements [on homosexuality] are based on his personal beliefs and should not be interpreted as issues he wants or should bring up as a Senator. It’s surprising, then, that he is now opposing a column written by the U.S. Ambassador in La Prensa Gráfica which only sought to explain the vision of the Obama government as related to the gay community in the United States.

A tiny drop of fundamentalist fanatics cannot represent the ocean of Salvadoreans who respect the ways of other nations.

Aguilar is making reference to several on the record comments DeMint has made in the past (“Sen. Kim DeMint: Gays and unmarried, pregnant women should not teach public school“, The Huffington Post, Oct. 2, 2010).

Covering last week’s hearing, La Prensa also mentions that Marco Rubio, U.S Senator from Florida and Tea Party darling, asked Aponte if she had felt pressured to write the OpEd piece.  Aponte reminded the Senator that she has written a regular opinion column for the paper and that she had written on LGBT issues specifically from a human rights viewpoint.

I have yet to find a full transcript or video of the hearing but Senate Republicans, in voting against Aponte, but her written testimony can be downloaded in PDF form here. Three former Salvadorean presidents traveled to Washington, DC, last month to support her confirmation (“Felix Rodriguez: In U.S. National Interest, confirm U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador“, Miami Herald, Nov. 5, 2011).

I have translated Ambassador Aponte’s “controversial” OpEd on LGBT rights. As you read it, please ask yourself who is seeking to impose certain values on El Salvador: Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte of South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

Clearly for DeMint this is not only about Aponte. This is a rebuke against any attempt by the U.S. government to promote policies that extend human rights protections to LGBT populations throughout the world.

For an end to prejudice, wherever it exists

by Mari Carmen Aponte – As published in Spanish in La Prensa Gráfica on June 28th, 2011

On May 31st, President Obama proclaimed June of 2011 as the pride month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“The history of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the United States,” says the President’s proclamation, “is the story of our parents and children, our mothers and daughters, our neighbors and friends who continue the task of making our nation a more perfect union.”

In the U.S., June is recognized as Gay Pride Month, a month during which the LGBT community celebrates its identity throughout the country through parades, festivals and educational campaigns.

When Congressman Barney Frank, who is openly gay, was asked why they should be proud of such a natural and innate human characteristic, he said “We are proud to stand up to hatred, prejudice and violence, specially when it is so difficult to stand up and say ‘This is me’; To do so should make us feel extremely proud”.

No one should be subjected to abuse because of who he is or who he loves. Homophobia and the brutal aggression that [gays] often endure are often based on a lack of understanding about what it truly means to be homosexual or transgender. We should work together too prevent negative perceptions through education and offering support to people who confront those who promote hate.

A year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with great passion, stated “gay rights are human rights.”  In the same way, we believe people should not be stripped from their rights on the basis of their sexual preference or orientation.  For that reason, the United States will continue to support the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation on a worldwide basis.

Last March, before the Human Rights Council at the United Nations, the United States, El Salvador and eighty-three other nations signed a pledge to eliminate violence against members of the LGBT community; additionally, on May of 2010, Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes signed Decree 56 which prohibits all forms of discrimination by the government of El Salvador on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. I applaud efforts by the government of El Salvador in support of the LGBT community both on the national and the international level.

However, the responsibility does not only lie in the hands of governments. Everyone has the responsibility to contribute whether it’s by confronting intimidation or violence when it happens in our schools or worksites, or by helping to inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As our nations advance, we also experience an ongoing transformation on what it means to be a citizen in a democratic society.  Together, as governments and as individuals, we can work to break the cycle of violence and discrimination.

It is the responsibility of each generation to bring our nations closer to fulfilling the promise of equality.  Progress takes time, but history is on our side when we come together to demand an end to prejudice, wherever it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the Americas.

 

Andrés Duque is long-time LGBT-rights advocate and award-winning Latino gay blogger. He writes at Blabbeando.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Anathema to the Soul of Our Nation’: Trump Pilloried for Demanding ‘Termination’ of the US Constitution

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The White House on Saturday afternoon responded to former President Donald Trump’s demand for the “termination” of the United States Constitution over non-existent “fraud and deception” in American elections, which he continues to claim cost him the presidency in 2020 and that he is expecting Republicans to embrace in his 2024 reelection campaign.

Trump wrote on his struggling fake Twitter app Truth Social:

ELECTION INTERFERENCE AT A LEVEL NEVER SEEN BEFORE!!!

Trump followed up with:

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

He went on to add:

UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!

I wonder what Mitch McConnell, the RINOS, and all of the weak Republicans who couldn’t get the Presidential Election of 2020 approved and out of the way fast enough, are thinking now?

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the elections of 2022, or 2020, or any other major historical contest, let alone that which was pervasive enough to affect the results. And the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next – which Trump has attempted to upend through his lies and ultimately by mounting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 – is a key tenet that holds the American democratic experiment intact.

White House Deputy Press Secretary and Senior Communications Adviser for Strategic Response Andrew Bates touched on those points in a statement:

The American Constitution is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. The Constitution brings the American people together – regardless of party – and elected leaders swear to uphold it. It’s the ultimate monument to all of the Americans who have given their lives to defeat self-serving despots that abused their powers and trampled on constitutional rights. Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned. You cannot love America only when you win.

The Democratic National Committee also fired back at Trump, as reported by Politico:

Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes in 2020 and his calls to undermine our democracy cost his party key races in 2022. The continued silence by Republican leaders, including his potential primary competitors, shows a MAGA party that is beholden to Trumpism, his divisive rhetoric, and his extreme positions.

Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump as well.

Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted:

Days after Trump dined with men who praise Hitler and the Nazis, he demands the ‘termination’ of the Constitution’s electoral process so he can be illegally reinstated. Trump’s words and actions are unacceptable, they stoke hatred and political violence, and they are dangerous. Every Member of Congress swore an oath to ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ Donald Trump has openly declared himself an enemy of the Constitution, and Republicans must repudiate him.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz said:

Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution and it is the final straw for zero republicans, especially the ones who call themselves ‘constitutional conservatives.

New York Representative Richie Torres noted that “January 6 was Donald Trump’s attempt at terminating the US Constitution. He’s a repeat offender.”

California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who regularly faces death threats, stated that “every congressional reporter should demand responses from Congressional Republicans about Donald Trump’s call for the Constitution to be terminated … how many of them called themselves ‘Constitutional conservatives’ during the Obama years???”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said that “Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 results. Georgia VOTE. You stood tall against Trump and his minions last time. A win for [incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael] Warnock is another win for democracy.”

While outrage over Trump’s “truth” was not exclusive to the left, few on the right have stepped up to rebuke Trump. One exception, however, was ex-United Nations Ambassador and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who posted that “no American conservative can agree with Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election. And all real conservatives must oppose his 2024 campaign for president.”

 

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News

‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

READ MORE: Trump plotted to trade Mar-a-Lago files for ‘sensitive documents’ about his 2016 campaign Russia ties: report

“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio: ‘Not a crime’ to break federal law by taking top secret national security documents from the White House

She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

READ MORE: Lauren Boebert to file defamation lawsuit against PAC claiming that she was once a ‘paid escort’: report

 

Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

READ MORE: 15-Year Old Campaigning Door-to-Door for Raphael Warnock Shot Through Door– ‘No Indication’ Politically Motivated: Police

Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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