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LGBT People Must Forge Global Solidarity Against Extremist Anti-Gay US Evangelicals

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 Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) when momentum to advance marriage equality in the United States is rapidly moving forward, while U.S. evangelicals have shifted their focus to exporting hatred toward LGBTQ people internationally.

Martin Luther King famously noted in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” This is particularly true of LGBTQ people in many places around the world whose fates are tied more closely together through the actions of one particular set of actors: extremist U.S. evangelicals in the business of exporting a virulent anti-gay agenda.

While 2013 has been a year of once unthinkable strides forward in the U.S., with rapidly shifting public opinion and breakthroughs on marriage equality, a look beyond our own borders reveals a different, but related trend in the opposite direction. In the very week that President Obama proclaimed our national journey towards freedom went through “Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall,” the Russian Duma passed a bill – by a vote of 390 — 1 – which would criminalize advocacy by and on behalf of LGBT people. While these events may seem unrelated, a deeper look uncovers a disturbing relationship between the advances in civil rights in the U.S. and the growing efforts to criminalize LGBTQ existence in Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Anti-gay extremists in the U.S. who have long devoted themselves to fear-mongering about the “homosexual agenda” have sought new markets abroad. As Rev. Dr. Kapya Koama, the leading researcher of this phenomenon, put it in the American Prospect, “It is homophobia, not homosexuality, that is being imported to the [African] continent by neocolonialists with an agenda: to spread U.S. culture wars worldwide.”

Exhibit A is Rev. Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries. In the U.S., his organization is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but in Uganda, Lively has been free from such baggage and has marketed himself as an expert on homosexuality. He has worked with prominent clerics and government officials there since 2002 to advance his rights-erasing strategies, and in 2009 headlined an influential conference titled “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda.” The notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill (aka the “Kill the Gays” bill) was introduced shortly afterwards, and Lively boasts of the effect of his work in Uganda, saying that it had the effect of a “nuclear bomb.” Lively, who  describes  LGBTQ people as evil, genocidal, brutal and above all as child predators, has as his aim the criminalization of advocacy for LGBTQ rights and works to strip away the most fundamental human rights from them. In Uganda, both state repression and extra-legal violence have been on the rise as a result of the anti-gay strategies Lively has helped orchestrate. What Lively is doing in Uganda is the very definition of persecution. Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), which has been a primary target of this persecution, is suing Scott Lively for his role in this persecution; the Center of Constitutional Rights (CCR) is representing them.

While the destructive role of U.S. evangelicals in Uganda has gotten some attention, Uganda is just the tip of the iceberg. Lively himself has been active in several Eastern European countries. His “Letter to the Russian People” urged Russians to “criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality” – the very thing the Russian Parliament has now voted to do. In Latvia, he co-founded a virulently and violently anti-gay organization, Watchmen on the Walls, which is known for its anti-gay demonstrations where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement.  In Moldova, he played a crucial role in defeating anti-discrimination legislation.

Lively is just one of the players in this cottage industry. Kaoma has published two reports through Public Research Associates on the subject of evangelical extremists’ interference in Africa, noting their involvement in constitutional or legislative efforts to crack down on LGBTQ people in Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the anti-gay American Center for Law and Justice, a Pat Robertson outfit, has recently expanded its international presence from Africa to South America, where it has set up shop in Brazil. These anti-gay evangelicals’ efforts, as Lively’s work exemplifies, go beyond fighting civil rights advances to eradicating basic, fundamental rights for LGBTQ people.

Those in the U.S. committed to the full civil and human rights of all people, including LGBTQ people, have a particular obligation in this situation. It’s not our fault that these anti-gay fanatics are peddling hate and oppression elsewhere, but as we are tied together in a single garment of destiny, it is very much our responsibility to speak out and do all we can to keep them from doing further harm. LGBTQ people around the world are fighting for their lives and their rights on their own terms on their own turf. Standing in solidarity with them, our most useful contribution to their struggles is to address the American origins of the attacks on their rights and existence.

Image by the official International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia campaign via Facebook

Vincent Warren is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). 

 

This piece is one in an ongoing series of articles that the Center for Constitutional Rights is contributing to The New Civil Rights Movement about their legal work, which addresses some of the most important civil rights and civil liberties of our time.

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‘Oddest’: Legal Experts Mock Trump’s ‘Nutty’ and ‘Doomed to Fail’ Emergency Supreme Court Motion

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It weighs in at 240 pages but legal experts are still mocking Donald Trump’s emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an 11th Circuit Court ruling and allow the special master to continue to inspect the 103 classified documents retrieved from him Mar-a-Lago home.

“Oddest SCOTUS petition. Very technical and not terribly logical,” observed Andrew Weissmann, an NYU School of Law law professor and former DOJ official who served as the General Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and as special counsel to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The motion was addressed to Justice Clarence Thomas,  who oversees the 11th Circuit courts. His wife, Ginni Thomas, is an avowed supporter of Trump and his “Big Lie” claims he won the 2020 election.

READ MORE: Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene for Him in Classified Documents Case

“SCOTUS should send him packing,” tweets former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. “No surprise here, this was why he paid former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise $3 million to sign on, no one else on his team could handle this.”

“Just watch SCOTUS turn Trump down 9-0. (Or 8-1 if Thomas dissents . . . ),” writes retired Harvard professor of law Laurence Tribe. “Will The Donald start calling ‘his’ three justices traitors? Will he say they have a ‘death wish’ as he did with McConnell?”

Weissmann took another hit at Trump’s Lawsuit, declaring it “nutty.”

“Trump argument to SCOTUS: 11th circuit had power to stay Cannon decision BUT it [could] not take the classified docs away from SM Dearie review. Nutty and if he won Dearie wd just say he won’t review the docs bc they are not Trump’s.”

University of Texas School of Law professor of law Steve Vladeck says that while the lawsuit is “not *entirely* laughable,” but he thinks “it’s both (1) doomed to fail; and (2) unlikely to accomplish much even if it succeeds.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court decides not to hear it.”

 

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene for Him in Classified Documents Case

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Donald Trump on Tuesday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in his classified documents case, and reverse a ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the U.S. Dept. of Justice access to the more than 100 classified and top secret documents federal agents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago residence and resort.

Trump is asking the nation’s highest court to order a special master to continue to inspect the 103 classified documents, despite the special master emphatically stating the government, not Trump, gets to decide what is classified and what is not, especially when Trump refused to provide a list of what he considered declassified.

The lawsuit, which is a massive 240 pages, mostly made up of other documents including the now infamous FBI photo of the classified documents on the Mar-a-Lago rug, is addressed to “The Honorable Clarence Thomas, Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit,” and refers to the former president as “President Trump.”

The lawsuit also mentions the contents that federal agents took, including “89 empty envelopes,” while not noting they were classified document envelopes.

“As part of the 11th Circuit’s decision, the panel allowed the criminal investigation to use the seized documents, something [Judge] Cannon had previously barred,” The Washington Post notes. “Trump’s filing seeks only to reverse the appeals court’s ruling on the special master’s access to the documents, not the part of the decision concerning the investigation.”

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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Biden Will Include DeSantis in His Visit to Support Florida Hurricane Victims

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President Joe Biden will travel to Florida Wednesday to support families devastated by Hurricane Ian, and will include the state’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, in his trip, the White House announced Tuesday.

Last week, asked if he would meet with DeSantis, a top detractor of the president, Biden told a reporter who asked, “I’ll meet with everybody who’s around. The answer is yes, if he wants to meet.”

“This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically, this is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses,” Biden also said last week.

DeSantis asked President Biden for financial assistance for his state, battered by what experts say is one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history. DeSantis voted against relief aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy when he served in Congress.

President Biden and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, will travel via Air Force One to Fort Myers, one of the hardest-hit areas of Florida by Hurricane Ian.

READ MORE: Watch: 2024 Presidential Hopeful Ron DeSantis Says ‘Cause for Concern Cause’ With Democrats Moving to Florida

But Fort Myers is also part of Lee County, where officials delayed evacuation orders.

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” The New York Times reported. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” the Times added. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

The St. Louis Post Dispatch blasted the Florida GOP governor, calling his “flip-flop on hurricane relief” a “study in right-wing hypocrisy.”

READ MORE: ‘Premeditated, Fraudulent, and Illegal’: Asylum Seekers Sue DeSantis After Being Sent to Martha’s Vineyard

“DeSantis’ willingness to shelve his usual attacks on the Biden administration to politely request emergency federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Ian is an inspiring example of constructive bipartisanship — as is Biden’s announcement that the government will bear a big part of the expense,” the Dispatch Editorial Board stated. “It’s interesting, though, that DeSantis took exactly the opposite stance a decade ago when he joined other hard-right members of Congress who argued against generous federal recovery aid when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast.”

Over the weekend DeSantis was blasted by volunteer relief aid workers who were delayed for hours in distributing “food, water, medicine, diapers, and anything else people needed” so Gov. DeSantis could get a photo-op.

 

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