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Diaz Aide: Senator Says On Gay Marriage No Separation Of Church And State



Editor’s note: This guest post is by Susan T. Bodansky, a straight ally who cares enough about marriage equality for all citizens that she traveled to Albany, New York — where same-sex marriage is currently being debated — to support our cause. After learning of her visit to Senator Díaz’s office, I asked her to write a very detailed account of everything that happened, which she generously provides below.

The obvious question is how can Senator Díaz continue to fulfill his duties as a New York State Senator, and represent all his constituents, when he consistently places the Bible and  his position as an ordained Pentecostal Minister, above the Constitution?

Last Monday several friends and I attended the Rally for Marriage Equality in Albany. We had already met with our local legislators and were waiting at the elevator. Two gentlemen came by and mentioned that they had come from Senator Díaz’s office and suggested that we try to stop by there as well, even though the Senator wasn’t there. Feeling that it was important to let him know we were there and that Marriage Equality was important to us, we decided to visit his office.

Inside we found his two assistants – a middle-aged white woman and a young black woman. We all signed his guest book and explained to the older woman why we were there. We told her that we believed that marriage was a civil right and that we hoped Senator Díaz would vote to extend this right to all citizens of New York.

She very nicely explained that she would pass along our message, but that she knew the Senator felt that this — same-sex marriage — was against what he believed in from the Bible. I said that I was sure that the Senator was aware that in the United States there was a separation of church and state and that the Bible wasn’t a part of the Constitution.

Others around me, including the gentlemen who had urged my friends and me to stop by Senator Díaz’s office also reiterated the viewpoint that all New Yorkers should have the right to marry, and one of the gentlemen gave the assistant a copy of the bills we were supporting.

She also told me that while she wasn’t speaking for Senator Díaz, she has heard him say many times that the Constitution doesn’t specifically state that there is a separation of church and state, but that Congress and the government was not allowed to mandate any specific religion.

It was very disconcerting that we would have to argue such a well-established concept as the separation of church and state. I went on to point out to her that the young black lady at the next desk might not have had the opportunity to work in this building 50 years ago without the civil rights acts passed then, and that none of us who were women, including herself, even had the right to vote less than 100 years ago.

She continued to listen to all of us very politely and promised to relay all of our information to Senator Díaz.

Until last Friday, I was completely unfamiliar with Senator Díaz other than having heard his name, since he is not my local representative. As I was leaving his office, I noticed a large, smiling poster of the man hanging on the wall. Only then did I realize that he was a man of color. I found it so appalling that such a man, who is old enough to remember the Civil Rights Acts, and to have so benefitted by them in his lifetime to have become a Senator – that this man in particular would deny civil rights to others was shocking and of course hypocritical.

In many ways, the entire day last Monday was surreal to me. As a child of the 60s, I was too young to have participated in any of the protest marches of those days. I was stung by the irony that back then, many young adults wanted to “live together,” while our parents exhorted us to get married. Now, as the parent of adult children, I find myself trying to convince “the establishment” to let people get married.

After all, what is more conservative and more of a basic civil right than getting married and having a family?

Susan Bodansky was married in New York State where she has lived her entire life. She hopes that her two children and all of your children will also be able to marry whomever they want in New York.

Image via a video by Blabbeando.

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



Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.

Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.

Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.

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

After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “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 reported in December. “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.”

Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”

READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional

Harding will be sentenced in July.

Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.


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



Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.

Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

“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,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline” White House.”

“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”

Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”

READ MORE: ‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment

“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”

On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”

That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”

The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.

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Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Disbar Lawyer Who Sexually Assaulted Six Women: Report



An 86-year old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.

Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be “indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year,” The Kansas City Star reports.

“In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office,” The Star reports. “Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted.”

In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy’s sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.

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

“Purdy’s clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances,” Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.

There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.

The ruling was not along party lines.

“In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline,” wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. “In my view, Mr. Purdy’s conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment.”

“As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he ‘exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'” Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]


Image of Missouri Supreme Court via Wikimedia



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