It was a week that began with a yawn, thanks to one of the most boring, least gay, and least political Oscar shows in memory –then rapidly descended into ugly days rife with hate speech and hate groups, free speech and lies, racism and anti-semitism. And throughout it all, I kept having to remind myself that oddly, as a writer chronicling the politics of equality, this is supposed to be all about love and marriage.
In an historic first amendment free speech case, the Supreme Court this week ruled that the “God Hates Fags” folks — also known as the Westboro Baptist Church — have the right to picket at or near funerals and say anything they want, including â€œGod hates fags,â€ â€œThank God for 9/11,â€ â€œThank God for AIDS,â€ and â€œU R going to hell.â€
(The Westboro Baptist Church may have the right to say whatever they want, but sinceÂ Anonymous took down their Internet sites almost two weeks ago, they’re having issues saying it online. But have no fear; they are promising to quadruple their anti-gay protesting.)
Just because no one likesÂ what the “God Hates Fags” folksÂ have to say, they have the right to say it. As do you. In America, we pay a steep but necessary price for free speech, even when it’s hate speech.
Compare that to Europe, where those who practice hate speech pay a steep price for it.
Especially anti-semitic speech.
The gay, now-former head designer for Christian Dior, John Galliano, wasÂ fired after saying in a bar last week, â€œI love Hitlerâ€ â€¦ â€œPeople like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed,â€ which wasÂ reportedly followed by, â€œDirty Jewish face, you should be dead â€¦ Fucking Asian bastard, I will kill you.â€
Mr. Galliano has apologized, but is facing possible jail time for his anti-semitic hate speech.
Back in America, not facing jail time, but reportedly facing a $10 million defamation lawsuit is anti-union, anti-left and anti-IslamÂ blogger Pamela Geller, and John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council. Geller is now wearing proudly a self-described “badge of honor” –theÂ designation of her organization, Stop Islamization of America, as a hate group, thanks to the good folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The lawsuit against Geller and Stemberger has motivated Stemberger to join forces with none other than (“exploratory”) GOPÂ presidential candidate, the twice divorced, three-time married serial adulterer and anti-gay politician (and Pope film maker!) Newt Gingrich, along with Southern Baptist ordained minister and liar-about-anything-about-Obama, the devoutly anti-gay GOP presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee. If that weren’t enough theocrats for you, joining them is the intensely homophobicÂ gay-bubble fearing GOPÂ possible presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann.
Gingrich, Huckabee, Bachmann — along with Republican Governor Haley Barbour, and Tony Perkins, president of theÂ certified hate group the Family Research Council (FRC),Â along with a cast of other extreme right-wing anti-gay conservatives — are hosting a church-based fundraiser for Stemberger that proclaims it will help you â€œRediscover God in America.â€
Curiously, (perhaps they’ve rediscovered God?), another anti-gay hate group this week actually acknowledged that DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional!
Pat Vaughn, general counsel for the American Family Association â€” aÂ certified hate group â€” who describes itself as â€œa Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media,â€ said,Â â€œthe Defense of Marriage Act is probably unconstitutional, particularly â€¦ if you attempt to apply it so that to say that a marriage conducted in one state is not in effect in another. That clearly violates the Constitution.â€
But guess who’s not saying DOMA is unconstitutional? That’s right, liar-about-anything-about-Obama, the devoutly anti-gay GOP presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee, and GOPÂ possible presidential aspirant, the former reality TV show star, former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, former Alaska Governor, former chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, former Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, former â€œMiss Congeniality,â€ (seriously,) former sportscaster, and former head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Sarah Palin.
Not only did Huckabee lie about Obama growing up in Kenya (he did not,) surrounded byÂ Madrasas (he was not,) he, along with Sarah Palin, lied about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s stance on DOMA.
Obama, who last month announced he will enforce — but no longer defend — DOMA in court, has been consistent (except for that 1996 letter in which he claimed to support marriage equality,) in his position on DOMA, including in August 2007, when Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said, â€œHe supports the complete repeal of DOMA which is the same position he has held since early 2004.â€
But Palin told NOMâ€™s Maggie Gallagher this week,Â â€œItâ€™s appalling, but not surprising that the President has flip-flopped on yet another issue from his stated position as a candidate to a seemingly opposite position once he was elected.â€
And Huckabee last month said Obama â€œhimself didnâ€™t take this position [against DOMA] when he ran for president. I think if he had, he wouldnâ€™t be president,â€ adding,Â â€I think he owes the people of America an explanation â€“ was he being disingenuous and dishonest then, is he being dishonest now, or did he change his view and if he did, when and why?â€
Um, no. Just no.
You know who else lied about Obama’s DOMA position? Pat Vaughn, general counsel for the American Family Association, who clearly said Obama “lied to people [about DOMA] when he ran.”
As I said in the beginning, this week has been filled with ugly days. And anti-semitism. And charges of it. (And don’t get me started on Charlie Sheen!)
Earlier this week, celebrated Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev came to America to discuss, all across the country, the state of the LGBT equality movement in Russia. Alekseev is best-known for suing for, and winning, the right to hold gay pride parades in Moscow. But a discredited detractorÂ claimed that Alekseev made comments that could be seen as anti-semitic.
(You can see Alekseev deny the charges in a speech he made at Columbia University in New York City this week, and hear his interview with veteran writer and radio host Michelangelo Signorile.)
Anti-semitism, like racism, is ugly, and an ugly charge if not true, and all deserve to be examined and discussed.
But the folks on the west coast who were sponsoring Alekseev’s trip didn’t want much of a discussion, and canceled his appearances. Long story short, Alekseev denied the charges several times. And probably isn’t too keen on some of his American counterparts now.
Just when you thought the marriage equality debate in Maryland was over, and the House was ready to vote (the Senate already did, and this should be the final step,) one Maryland state delegate, Sam Arora, flip-flopped his position on marriage equality.
Arora ran on a platform of full equality, and took a lot of money from the LGBT community. Needless to say, they were non-too pleased, and this became a national event.
Fortunately, Arora at the last minute has changed his mind. A bit. He now says he will vote for the bill, but wants a public referendum on marriage equality in Maryland. (For the record, civil rights are inalienable. No one should ever be allowed to vote on your rights.)
In response to an op-ed by veteran Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, Maggie wrote,
â€œI have two reactions to reading this WaPo columnistâ€™sÂ comments.
â€œFirst, if Sam Arora is wavering under this media firestorm, he must be hearing from hundreds of constitutents who do not want him to vote for gay marriage.
â€œSecondly, as someone married to an Indian-American, I find it interesting that the gay marriage machine appears to be re-focusing its attacks from Black Democrats who oppose gay marriage to an easier target: Indian-Americans.â€
Now, who knew (I certainly hadn’t) but it seems that Arora is Indian-American. What difference that makes on anything is unbeknownst to me. Not did I know anyone was attacking Black Democrats. Nor did I know there was a “gay marriage machine.” (Where does one buy that?)
This entire situation came to light when well-known columnist, LGBT activist, and Media Matters guy Karl Frisch — who happens to be a friend of Arora — wrote an open letter demanding his campaign contribution back.
Evidently, a very effective tactic, especially when it’s that personal.
Others followed. Many others. And then word got out and comments on Arora’s Facebook page went into overdrive.
As I’ve said, it’s been an ugly week. But change is sometimes ugly. Battles can be ugly.
But it’s all for a good cause.Â Love, and marriage. And the civil right to have both. Whatever bumps we feel along the way, no other reward, no other success, will be as sweet.
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Embattled Trump-Appointed DHS Inspector Was Given Phones of Secret Service Agents in July, Raising ‘New Questions’: Report
Senior Secret Service leadership confiscated the cell phones of 24 agents and handed them over to the embattled Trump-appointed Inspector General of the Dept. of Homeland Security as he was launching his criminal investigation into the deleted text message scandal. The Secret Service, DHS, and former Trump officials at the Pentagon have been under fire after the IG, Joseph Cuffari, belatedly revealed texts from January 5 and 6, 2021, had been deleted.
“The agency handed over the phones ‘shortly after’ a July 19 letter was sent by Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s office,” NBC News reports.
“The revelation that Cuffari’s office has had access to the phones since late July or August raises new questions about the progress of his criminal investigation into the missing text messages and what, if anything, the public may be able to learn about communications between agents on Jan. 6, 2021,” NBC adds.
Cuffari reportedly learned in December of 2021 that the cell phones of Secret Service agents directly involved in protective operations on the day of the insurrection, had been wiped and text messages deleted. He did not report this to Congress until July of 2022, despite his staff taking action.
CNN, however, has reported Cuffari actually learned of the deleted texts in May of 2021, which if accurate would mean he waited more than a year to inform Congress. Nor did he inform the National Archives, which is required by law to retain those records.
Cuffari has been seen by some as covering for Trump loyalists. His own staff is calling for his firing.
“Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watchdog staff recently called on President Joe Biden to remove their boss, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, according to a blistering letter obtained by the Project On Government Oversight,” POGO reported last week. “‘The highest priorities of an inspector general are integrity and independence,’ states the letter. ‘IG Cuffari and his inner circle of senior leaders have fallen short in these areas time and time again.'”
In April of 2021 The Washington Post reported Cuffari “blocked investigations proposed by career staff last year to scrutinize the [Secret Service’s] handling of the George Floyd protests in Lafayette Square and the spread of the coronavirus in its ranks, according to documents and people with knowledge of his decisions.”
Noted political scientist Norman Ornstein, who sits on the POGO board, in late July called the situation a “coverup of treason.”
POGO, he wrote, “has been calling for a long time for the resignation of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari. He sat on the information of missing texts from the top DHS ‘acting’ officials, put there by Trump to do his bidding. Stinks to high heaven. Coverup of treason.”
DOJ Demands Return of Emails Peter Navarro Sent From Private Account for Government Business
The Department of Justice is seeking a court order to compel Peter Navarro to return government documents he took after leaving the Trump administration.
Investigators are seeking the return of emails he sent while working on the White House coronavirus response, which they say were sent from a private account for government business to discuss ventilators, activating National Guard units, and the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, reported CNN.
“There is no genuine dispute of fact that Dr. Navarro used at least one unofficial email account to conduct official business, that those records are the property of the United States, and that Dr. Navarro has refused to return the records to the United States. Indeed, his counsel has expressly admitted as much,” wrote Justice Department lawyers.
“Because Dr. Navarro remains in possession of property that belongs to the United States,” the lawyers added, “this Court should issue a writ of replevin requiring Dr. Navarro to return what he wrongfully continues to possess.”
The National Archives discovered the emails were missing after the DOJ sued Navarro earlier this year in a records dispute related to a House investigation.
Fox News Host Claims ‘Whites Are a Minority in California’ So Dems Want ‘On-Ramp’ for Undocumented Immigrants to Vote
Fox News personality Jesse Watters is making undocumented claims about undocumented immigrants and voting in California, the nation’s most-populous state, along with false claims about voter ID and precisely which race is the majority in the Golden State.
“Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting,” the ACLU says. “These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card.”
That’s very different from falsely claiming Black Americans are “incapable of handling an ID.”
Watters went on to say, “But, I guess illegal aliens are perfectly capable of having a state-issued ID to use it for welfare.”
That too is false.
Undocumented immigrants are almost exclusively ineligible for federal government welfare programs.
“What I think is going on here is, right now, whites are a minority in California. Hispanics are the majority race in that state,” Watters claims.
Depending on your definition, that’s false, according to the U.S. Government.
Those who reported being “white alone or in combination” with another race is listed as 54.6% for California for the actual 2020 Census. “White alone” is listed as 41.2%.
“Hispanic or Latino” is listed as 39.4% of the population in California. “Not Hispanic or Latino” is listed at 60.6%.
“And white Democrat politicians like Gavin Newsom see the writing on the wall and they’ll do anything they can to cling to the political machine,” Watters claimed. “Now, this looks like an on-ramp to voting, if I was just being suspicious. But, being suspicious has made me very, very successful.”
The segment began with “Judge’ Jeanine Pirro saying “Liberal states and cities from coast to coast putting illegal immigrants over their own residents.” Pirro was lamenting a bill Newsom signed into law she says that will allow “illegal immigrants to acquire a government-issued state ID.”
Just before the 2016 election Watters did a man-on-the-street segment in New York City’s Chinatown and for nearly five minutes engaged in racist, anti-Asian, and downright offensive behavior. Vox’s Libby Nelson put it this way: “Fox News fit an impressive number of offensive Asian stereotypes into 5 minutes.”
Watch below or at this link.
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