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Law, Unwrapped: Ordinary Americans, Sentinel Confrontations



In Troy, Michigan, two women and their kids confronted the mayor at a city council meeting. Last summer, that mayor posted to Facebook – will people never learn? – that she wanted to tear up her “I Love New York” carrying bag now that “queers” can marry there.

In New Hampshire, Mitt Romney sat down next to a Vietnam vet, hoping to score a few easy points with some rote declaration of thanks for his service. He wasn’t expecting his sixty-something year old contemporary to come out to him, and then to directly ask him whether he supported the vet’s right to marry his partner. (He doesn’t.)

Somewhere in South Carolina, a Michele Bachmann book-signing stumbled into an awkward abyss when, at her urging, an eight-year-old boy leaned in to make himself heard and then told the clueless candidate that his mommy was “gay but she doesn’t need fixing.”

And just yesterday, Newt Gingrich, whose recent statements on the judiciary conclusively disqualify him from the Presidency and possibly even for citizenship, answered a gay man’s question about how he planned to engage the gays if elected in a shocking way:  by advising the guy to vote for Obama. (Gingrich is, unfortunately, headed for the worst flameout since Ed Muskie, thereby depriving me of countless hours of savoring a yummy stew of outrage and amusement. Is there anyone out there who still thinks he’s a bright guy?)

These confrontations wouldn’t have happened just a few years ago. They’re sentinel events, highlighting the increasingly undeniable point that it’s no longer possible to simply ignore us, or to try to achieve that same goal less directly by stuffing us back into the closet. We are everywhere, and even vets and book signings attended by kids aren’t safe for this kind of casual bigotry any more. Even those in force fields built of ideological extremism (Bachmann) or piles of privilege (Romney) are finding, to call up a Star Trek standby, that their shield strength is “way down, captain.”

But things will stay ugly for awhile, because these cosseted politicos are always the last to know that their orthodoxy has been defeated. So in his risible “Strong“ video, Rick Perry wonders how gays can serve openly in the military while Christian children are – and here I’m paraphrasing – burned alive for even thinking about Christmas. In a recent email to the faithful, NOM President Brian Brown solicited contributions in an effort to keep same-sex marriage from “destroying” marriage (as he knows it.) Yet as the rhetoric on the far right becomes increasingly hysterical, it becomes ever-more marginalized. So for every “like” of Perry’s YouTube video, there are more than thirty “dislikes.” 30 to 1! And the parodies of the video keep coming, in crazy proliferation. Not since NOM’s “Gathering Storm” has a wingnut video betrayed such a tin ear, or inspired such lip-licking from parodists. It’s really too easy.

That’s not to say that these videos don’t do harm, though. Like the escalating idiocy of people like Newt Gingrich, they don’t help the doomed candidates or causes, but they do enable and give comfort to those who defend bullying or, worse, the criminalization of gayness and the murder of LGBT people by repressive governments.

Am I building too shaky a bridge to bear this kind of weight? You might think so, but Rick Perry’s already crossed it. In response to the moving and eloquent speech on LGBT rights as human rights that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered in Geneva earlier this month, Rick Perry (who, as the Daily Show’s Jon Oliver memorably stated last week, has an Achilles Head) assailed the Obama Administration for “being out of touch with America’s values” and – yes! – “at war with people of faith in this country.” Listen to Clinton’s simple call for equality and justice — and basic public safety — for the world’s LGBT population and you’ll be astounded at Perry’s response. Given the content of her speech, Perry’s comments come something close to approval of violence and murder against us.

But when Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann and Rick Santorum (Remember him? Me neither.) collapse spectacularly, we’ll be one step closer to the end of barely veiled gay-bashing. It won’t come too soon.
Were he born 10,000 years ago, John Culhane would not have survived to adulthood; he has no useful, practical skills. He is a law professor who writes about various and sundry topics, including: disaster compensation; tort law; public health law; literature; science; sports; his own personal life (when he can bear the humanity); and, especially, LGBT rights and issues. He teaches at the Widener University School of Law and is a Senior Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health.

He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, and writes his own eclectic blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you’re blessed with lots of time.

John Culhane lives in the Powelton Village area of Philadelphia with his partner David and their twin daughters, Courtnee and Alexa. Each month, he awaits the third Saturday evening for the neighborhood Wine Club gathering.

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Trump Indictment Is a Massive 34 Counts: CNN



When he appears in New York next week, Donald Trump will face a 34-count indictment.

CNN’s John Miller on-air Thursday evening announced, “I am told by my sources that this is 34 counts of falsification of business records, which is probably a lot of charges involving each document, each thing that was submitted, as a separate count.”

Attorney Tristan Snell, who assisted in the successful prosecution of the Trump University case for the New York Attorney General’s Office, responded via Twitter:

“This is WAY more than expected. If this is correct, it could mean that the indictment covers FAR more than the Stormy Daniels hush money — like Karen McDougal hush money or other hush money/catch-and-kill cases.”

READ MORE: Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’

“My hunch for a while,” Snell adds, “given [David] Pecker’s involvement and the drawn-out timetable of the indictment, plus the TWENTY interviews of Michael Cohen with the DA, showed that something far larger than Stormy might be in the works.”

“May still be wrong, of course. But 34 counts is a LOT!”

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Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’



Donald Trump’s attorneys were notified Thursday afternoon a Manhattan grand jury had voted to indict him on felony charges related to his alleged hush money payoff of a porn star he reported slept with.

The ex-president’ attorney recently said if indicted Trump would travel to New York to turn himself in.

The Office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has just issued a strongly-worded statement saying it is “coordinating” with Trump’s attorneys for his “surrender.”

“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected,” the statement reads.

READ MORE: ‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond

The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery posted the statement to Twitter.

NBC News explains the process, noting he is expected to be arraigned next week.

“After the indictment, Trump will be arrested and taken into custody. He will likely have a mug shot and fingerprints taken,” NBC reports. “Trump will then appear in court to be arraigned, where he will hear charges and enter a plea. Two sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that the former president is likely to be arraigned next week. Trump will either be jailed or released while pre-trial hearings take place.”

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‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond



Just past 5:00 PM ET The New York Times broke the news that Donald Trump, the ex-president, had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on felony charges.

It is a historic moment.

Legal experts are weighing in to help guide Americans through an event that has never before happened in this country.

Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman says the fact that this is the first time in U.S. history a president is facing criminal charges is itself a problem.

“I think it would have not been a novel event,” Ackerman said on MSNBC, “if we had done this 49 years ago with Richard Nixon, and he had not been pardoned, this will not be a big event [that] it is today.”

READ MORE: New Poll Sends Trump Damning Message About 2024 if He’s Criminally Indicted

“Everybody should be held accountable,” Ackerman added, citing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s earlier remarks. Cohen testified repeatedly before the Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump late Thursday afternoon after a three-hour session.

Ackerman lamented that despite over 30 people being indicted during Watergate, “Richard Nixon was pardoned, he wasn’t held accountable.”

“I think this is very important,” Ackerman continued, “establishing a principle, a line in the sand, that even if you’re the President of the United States, and you commit a crime, you can’t stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and just shoot somebody.”

Ackerman was referring to Trump’s infamous comments during the 2016 election, when he bragged he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Attorney and civil rights activist Maya Wiley, also on MSNBC, said, “It’s important and sobering that we had somebody who had the highest office of this country who has now ben indicted for his behavior, his acts, in order to win that office, but also faces what are more shoes that will drop, I believe.”

“It is a sobering moment for this country, that we are witnessing this happened to somebody who was entrusted with such power who has now had a jury of his peers, because that is what a grand jury also is, say we believe he had to face the music.”

READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, called this a “moment where we would do well to seriously assess who we are as Americans and who we are not as Americans, because we re all so familiar with Donald Trump’s tactics.”

Watch the video above or at this link.

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