Â 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 â€œWe are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.â€ 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 â€œSeneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall,â€ the Russian Duma passed a bill â€“ by a vote of 390 — 1 â€“ 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 â€œhomosexual agendaâ€ have sought new markets abroad. As Rev. Dr. Kapya Koama, the leading researcher of this phenomenon, put it in the American Prospect, â€œIt is homophobia, not homosexuality, that is being imported to the [African] continent by neocolonialists with an agenda: to spread U.S. culture wars worldwide.â€
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 â€œSeminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda.â€ The notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill (aka the â€œKill the Gaysâ€ bill) was introduced shortly afterwards, and Lively boasts of the effect of his work in Uganda, saying that it had the effect of a â€œnuclear bomb.â€ Lively, who Â describes Â 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 â€œLetter to the Russian Peopleâ€ urged Russians to â€œcriminalize the public advocacy of homosexualityâ€ â€“ 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.Â 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 extremistsâ€™ 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 evangelicalsâ€™ efforts, as Livelyâ€™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. Itâ€™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.
This piece is one in an ongoing series of articles that theÂ Center for Constitutional Rights is contributing toÂ The New Civil Rights MovementÂ about their legal work, which addresses some of the most important civil rights and civil liberties of our time.
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‘They’re Coming After Our Children’: Watch Casey DeSantis’ Dystopian Fear-Mongering Ad
The imagery is dark. The words are defiant. The message is dystopian. An ad for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘s presidential campaign, currently “in turmoil,” features the First Lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis, issuing a warning: “They’re coming after our children.”
The ad never quite says who is coming after the kids, but the video (below) includes clips of President Joe Biden and former Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the war on COVID and the now-retired Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
While it was first released over the summer, it received little attention. Casey DeSantis on Friday reposted her “Mamas for DeSantis” ad. It comes in the wake of the alleged ménage à trois sex scandal involving an unnamed woman who has accused Christian Ziegler, the head of the Florida Republican Party of rape. His wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, who reportedly confirmed the consensual three-way sexual relationship, is Casey DeSantis’ “best friend,” according to Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch.
“In America, we’ve witnessed a lot and put up with enough,” Casey DeSantis says in a voiceover at the start of the two-and-a-half minute video.
“We’ve been forced into silence,” she charges, amid a baby crying and a COVID mask being put over a child’s face. “Into compliance.”
“Told that we must ‘trust the science,'” DeSantis continues, in a direct attack on Dr. Fauci, showing him speaking during the height of COVID in the Trump administration.
And in an attack on LGBTQ children and adults, she says: “We’ve been told that we must deny truth. Back down. And look the other way.”
“Enough is enough. When you come after our kids, we fight back. Because there’s nothing we won’t do to protect our children,” she says.
Seconds later, the video shows President Joe Biden declaring, “Our nation’s children are all our children.”
“We will not allow you to exploit their innocence to advance your agenda. We are no longer silent,” Casey DeSantis declares. “We are united. We have finally found our fighter.”
Casey DeSantis praises her husband, saying he will do for America what he did for Florida: “Schools: opened. Parents’ rights: defended. School choice: universal. Critical race theory: prohibited. DEI: stopped. Child mutilation: illegal. Girls’ sports: saved. Communities: protected. Our economy: growing. And freedom: guaranteed.”
In the section where President Biden says, “Our nation’s children are all our children,” Casey DeSantis doesn’t explain that those words came from a White House celebration honoring Teachers of The Year from across the country. The President was praising an Oklahoma Teacher of the Year whose district includes students who speak 62 different languages, so she had to work hard to ensure everyone felt included. She had said, “There’s no such thing as someone else’s child.”
Nor did DeSantis acknowledge that Governor DeSantis’ performance for children has been poor.
The Florida Policy Institute, which says it is “an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization,” in September warned “368,728 youth aged 20 and younger” have been cut from Medicaid. “Because Florida has not expanded Medicaid, the vast majority of those losing insurance during this time have been children, parents, young adults, and new mothers.”
Some critics on social media blasted Casey DeSantis’ remarks.
“Republicans refused to extend child tax credits that pulled 2 million children out of poverty. They resist the idea of free school lunches. Yet they come up with bullshit about their opponents ‘coming after our children.’ Yes, we’re coming after them, to give them a sandwich,” wrote former Chicago Tribune editor Mark Jacob.
Watch the Casey DeSantis video below or at this link.
The stakes are high. They’re coming after our children.
We need a fighter who will defend the innocence of our children and protect the rights of parents.
He showed it on the debate stage, and he’s the only one with the proven track record to back it up. pic.twitter.com/3Gyezc18L8
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) December 8, 2023
‘Significant and Imminent Threat’: Trump Gag Order Largely Upheld by Appeals Court
A Washington, D.C. federal appeals court Friday afternoon largely upheld and reinstated U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s very narrow and limited gag order on Donald Trump for his trial on charges related to his alleged efforts to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“We agree with the district court that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s public statements pose a significant and imminent threat to the fair and orderly adjudication of the ongoing criminal proceeding, warranting a speech-constraining protective order,” reads Judge Patricia Millett unanimous three-judge panel ruling, posted by Lawfare’s Anna Bower. “The district court’s order, however, sweeps in more protected speech than is necessary. For that reason, we affirm the district court’s order in part and vacate it in part.”
The judges upheld the gag order “to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel from making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”
They also upheld the gag order “to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel from making or directing others to make public statements about (1) counsel in the case other than the Special Counsel, (2) members of the court’s staff and counsel’s staffs, or (3) the family members of any counsel or staff member—if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with, counsel’s or staff’s work in this criminal case, or with the knowledge that such interference is highly likely to result.”
The judges removed from the gag order “speech beyond those specified categories.”
“We do not allow such an order lightly,” the judges added. “But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants.”
Bower explains, “Chutkan’s order would have prohibited statements that refer to special counsel Jack Smith as a ‘thug’ or ‘deranged.’ But the appeals court order does not apply to speech about the special counsel himself.”
CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane sums up the ruling: “Much of the gag order in Donald Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy criminal case in DC is *REINSTATED*.”
Peter Doocy Admits No ‘Concrete Evidence Joe Biden Personally Profited’ From Hunter’s Business
In a report focused on House Republicans’ plan to vote on a resolution to open an official impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy told viewers there is no evidence of impeachable offenses.
“The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business but they are going to try again with this impeachment inquiry set to start next week,” Doocy, who often criticizes President Biden in White House press briefings, said Friday on Fox News Business.
Other news outlets this week have also stressed Republicans have come up empty-handed.
The right-leaning news outlet The Hill, reporting on the resolution Thursday, noted Republicans’ current investigation “has struggled to connect President Biden to the activities of his son, and they’ve failed to prove their most salacious allegation — and the one that would be most key for impeachment: that the president accepted a bribe.”
One of the main pillars of Republicans’ allegations against President Biden, the “narrative that President Biden pushed Ukraine to fire its prosecutor to help his son, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burimsa, has largely been refuted,” The Hill also reported.
“Republicans have engaged in wide-ranging inquiry into Mr. Biden for months,” The New York Times reported Tuesday, “hunting for evidence to back up their allegations that he corruptly profited from his family members’ overseas business dealings and accepted bribes. To date, they have failed to deliver compelling evidence to back up their boldest claims.”
Watch Doocy below or at this link.
Peter Doocy: “The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business.” pic.twitter.com/a5N44hIRrQ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2023
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