Guest Author AndrÃ©s Duque shares another important story with The New Civil Rights Movement. It is cross posted from his own excellent site, Blabbeando,Â which should be on your regular reading list.Â We are always grateful to him for his excellent work, and especially grateful when he allows us to share it with our readers.
WhenÂ President Barack ObamaÂ named Puerto Rican lawyerÂ Mari Carmen AponteÂ 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 CarolinaÂ Republican Senator Jim DeMintÂ led the charge against Aponte raising several “issues” includingÂ 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 asÂ interimÂ ambassadors.Â That meant that they could immediately start serving as diplomats but would have to eventually face confirmation hearingsÂ 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 2010Â was Aponte.
On a related matter, on June 27th of this yearÂ U.S. Secretary of State Hillary ClintonÂ 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 fromÂ 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 weâ€™ve made the message very consistent and of a high priority. All peopleâ€™s rights and dignity must be protected whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The very next day El Salvador’sÂ La Prensa GrÃ¡ficaÂ published an opinion piece by Ambassador Aponte titled “For an end to prejudice, wherever it exists“.Â 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,Â Salvadorean President Mauricio FunesÂ 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,Â ACI PrensaÂ 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“).Â 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.Â 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 observerÂ Marvin AguilarÂ took the homophobic religious doomsayers to task a week later in an OpEd that ran inÂ La PÃ¡ginaÂ (“In consideration of what was said by the U.S. Ambassador“). A translated excerpt:
In the Tuesday, June 28th edition of La Pagina GrÃ¡fica, 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:Â 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.Â 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…
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.Â 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 â€œgay rights are human rightsâ€ and also noted gay pride month is celebrated with â€œparades, festivals, and educational campaignsâ€ in the United States where the gay rights movement â€œcelebrates its identity throughout the country.â€
That’s right.Â 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,Â defended herself against DeMint’s accusationsÂ 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, inÂ an OpEd columnÂ published inÂ La PrensaÂ 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.Â 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.Â 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 hisÂ de factoÂ 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.Â 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 GrÃ¡fica 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 thatÂ Marco Rubio, U.S Senator from Florida and Tea Party darling, asked Aponte if she had felt pressured to write the OpEd piece.Â Aponte reminded the Senator that she has written a regular opinion column for the paper and that she had written on LGBT issues specificallyÂ 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 formÂ 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.
by Mari Carmen Aponte – AsÂ published in Spanish in La Prensa GrÃ¡ficaÂ 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.
WhenÂ 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.”Â In the same way, we believe people should not be stripped from their rights on the basis of their sexual preference or orientation.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.
AndrÃ©s Duque is long-time LGBT-rights advocate and award-winning Latino gay blogger. He writes atÂ Blabbeando.
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Jobs Report Forces Fox News to Admit Biden Economy ‘A Lot Stronger Than Anybody Understands’
The monthly jobs report released Friday morning is being heralded as “robust,” “upbeat,” and “stronger than expected,” as unemployment again dropped to a near-50-year low (3.7%) while the economy added another 199,000 jobs.
“It’s the little engine that could, and this little locomotive keeps a chugging along…” declared professor of economics and public policy scholar Justin Wolfers.
“So the last three months have seen jobs growth at a very healthy average rate of +204k per month,” he added. “For context: Average monthly job growth from Jan 2000 to Dec 2019 was +87k.”
“If I had asked you a year ago to sketch what you thought a soft landing might look like,” he said, praising America’s post-COVID pandemic economy, “it’s likely you would have pretty much drawn the current economic data.”
On Thursday, Wolfers had discussed the incongruence between what economic data consistently shows about the strength of the U.S. economy, and what Americans are telling pollsters.
“There’s no question people are telling pollsters they’re miserable about the economy. But riddle me this,” he asked, “Why can’t we find evidence of this pessimism in anything other that public opinion polls? Every non-poll based indicator of confidence suggests folks are optimistic.”
Heather Long, The Washington Post economic columnist, offered this view in response to Friday’s jobs report.
“Step back for a minute and look at this US job market,” she wrote.
“4.7 million more jobs than pre-pandemic
Below 4% unemployment for two years
Wages growing faster than inflation
Women (ages 25 to 54) at an all-time high for labor force participation”
Even Fox News was forced to deliver positive comments while reporting on Friday’s monthly numbers.
“Overall you’ve got to look at this report as a big positive,” admitted pro-Trump Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “We’ve got more jobs created than expected.”
Speaking to the former chief economist of The White House National Economic Council under President Trump, Bartiromo said, “Joe LaVorgna, you’ve been saying this, the economy is a lot stronger than anybody understands.”
Watch below or at this link.
it’s time for my favorite Friday tradition — Maria Bartiromo having to cope with announcing another strong jobs report pic.twitter.com/bsOIQToEwe
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2023
Right Wing Evangelicals Are ‘Marinating’ in ‘Information Aimed at Making Them Fearful, Hostile’: Journalist
Rather, he argued, it is part of a deliberate campaign to radicalize and terrify them into loyalty — and part of what’s driving that is a “disproportionality crisis” of the information they are receiving.
““If you go to church on Sunday morning, you are going to be in the word with your pastor for, you know, 30 minutes, maybe 40, 45 minutes, and you sing some songs, and you say the prayers, and then you are out in the world for the rest of the week,” said Alberta. “And for most of these folks, as they’re out in the world, they are marinating in talk radio, in cable news, in social media—all of this information that is aimed at making them angry, fearful, hostile.”
Whereas they may hear Jesus’ message of tolerance, love, and forgiveness “on Sunday morning for 45 minutes, but then for 4, 5, 6, 10 hours during the week, you’re hearing the exact opposite. And it’s that ratio being so far out of whack that I think is really at the heart of the crisis here.”
And that’s assuming they’re at a church that will even give them messages of love and forgiveness in the first place — many pro-Trump pastors, like Greg Locke of Tennessee, have messages that are far angrier.
“[Trump] may not share their views, he may not sit in the pews with them, he may not read the good book like they do, but in some way, that’s his superpower,” Alberta explained. “He is free to fight in ways that are, you know, unrestrained, unmoored from biblical virtue. And that relationship with Trump has obviously evolved over the last eight years. What started as this very uneasy alliance for a lot of evangelicals with Trump has now morphed into this situation where, look, desperate times call for desperate measures. The barbarians are at the gates and we need a barbarian to keep them at bay.” This means that Trump’s increasingly dictatorial rhetoric is a natural outlet for the rage and frustration these evangelical voters are being fed.
None of this is to say that Trump has completely unified the evangelical world. Cracks have appeared in recent months, with prominent evangelical leaders like Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis out of concern about Trump’s electoral viability.
Editor’s note: Tim Alberta is an award-winning g journalist, a staff writer for The Atlantic, and author of “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” and “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”
‘Straight Up Flout the Law’: Trump Declares Judge Chutkan No Longer Has Power Over His Case
Reacting to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling last week that Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution just because he was President during the time he attempted to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overthrow the government by overturning the results of the election, attorneys for the criminally-indicted ex-president on Thursday declared the judge no longer has any power over the case while they appeal her ruling.
Noting that the appeal “could take weeks or months,” Politico reports, “In the meantime, he says, Chutkan must postpone all deadlines and cede her authority over the matter.”
“Citing ‘political costs to President Trump and this country’ if the case were to move forward, Trump’s lawyers argued Thursday that he’s entitled to an ‘automatic stay’ while he appeals Chutkan’s ruling last week.”
Trump’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is “asking that court to overturn Chutkan’s ruling and dismiss the indictment against him,” Forbes adds.
Trump had also argued that he is immune from prosecution because the Senate did not convict him after his second House impeachment, this one for “incitement of insurrection.” Judge Chutkan also denied that claim.
“’The filing of President Trump’s notice of appeal has deprived this Court of jurisdiction over this case in its entirety pending resolution of the appeal,’ Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and John Lauro wrote. ‘Therefore, a stay of all further proceedings is mandatory and automatic,'” Politico reports. “Trump’s attorneys indicated that even if Chutkan doesn’t grant the stay, they plan to ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to do so and intend to operate as if there is one in place.”
Trump lawyers say unless Chutkan reverses her ruling, they will ignore all deadlines and other court procedures, unless they are told otherwise.
The Trump lawyers’ motion says, “all current deadlines must be held in abeyance until, at minimum, this motion is resolved. President Trump will proceed based on that understanding and the authorities set forth herein absent further order of the Court.”
“Very much in character,” The Economist’s Supreme Court reporter Steven Mazie wrote of the move by attorneys for the ex-president. “Trump is purporting to straight up flout the law.”
Former U.S. DOJ official and FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissman, a professor of law, said Trump was acting “Impudently.”
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut, of counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy, on Monday at Slate wrote Judge Chutkan’s opinion ruling Trump cannot claim presidential immunity for trying to overturn the 2020 election, “is meticulously crafted with the Supreme Court in mind. The decision deploys every methodology of constitutional interpretation, including textualism, each variety of so-called originalism, attention to constitutional structure and underlying premises, functional considerations, and history.”
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