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Maggie Gallagher’s NOM Goes After Prop 8 Judges



On Wednesday, December 1, coincidentally both World AIDS Day and the fifty-fifth anniversary of freedom fighter Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage (NOM) demanded that one of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges for next week’s upcoming Prop 8 trial give up his seat on the court. That’s right, after NOM’s successful assault on the Iowa Supreme Court judges who found Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional (NOM actually helped get them voted out of office,) Maggie Gallagher’s mysteriously-funded anti-gay anti-marriage equality organization is trying to get one of three federal judges appointed to hear the case — Judge Stephen Reinhardt — kicked off the Proposition 8 trial.

NOM’s reasoning? Judge Reinhardt’s wife is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California.

“Judge Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has been involved in this case on numerous accounts, and what we’ve learned from Ed Whelan’s highly informative Bench Memo yesterday, posted on National Review Online (and updated here) is that there is no way Judge Reinhardt can rightfully remain a member of this hearing without making a mockery of the federal judiciary,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM. “We are demanding that Judge Reinhardt to step down immediately and call Californians to write an official complaint to the Ninth Circuit demanding that Judge Reinhardt be disqualified.”

(Of course, we can all agree that Brian Brown’s primary concern in life is the federal judiciary not be made a mockery.)

Indeed, there are many ways to look at this situation. Is a federal judge capable of being objective, regardless of his wife’s (or, hypothetically, his husband’s) involvement in the case? Is there the possibility of the perception of a lack of impartiality? Can we judge a judge based on his or her spouse’s actions, political affiliations, or even sexual orientation?

NOM claims that “there are other circumstances that clearly call his impartiality into question,” and that “Ripston, Reinhardt’s wife, contributed money to the NO on Proposition 8 campaign. It is not known if these funds were joint or separate funds. Ripston publicly cheered the decision by the District Court to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In a media statement, she said, ‘We rejoice at today’s decision but there’s a long road ahead toward establishing true marriage equality for same-sex couples.’”

If this is true, why haven’t Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, and the rest of the NOM clan called into question the impartiality of another one of the three judges on the panel who will be hearing next week’s Prop 8 case, Norman Randy Smith? Many believe Judge Smith is a Mormon, and the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was one of the largest contributors to the “Yes On 8” Prop 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California. Judge Smith, who attended Brigham Young University and received both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from that Mormon university, was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush to the Ninth Circuit. Is that not a problem for the National Organization for Marriage too?

If not, why is religion — and participation in religion-based activities, like donating to a political campaign — not a disqualifier for the National Organization for Marriage? And why is sexual orientation? NOM heavily protested Judge Vaughn Walker, the judge on the Prop 8 federal trial, who found Prop 8 unconstitutional. Judge Walker, as it turns out, reportedly is gay.

At the time, Gallagher called Walker’s decision which found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, a “sin,” and “a slur against the American people.”

Given NOM’s “logic,” once Prop 8 (or the Defense of Marriage Act, or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,) gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas must automatically recuse himself. After all, Virginia Thomas, Judge Thomas’ wife (who recently made headlines by demanding an apology from her husband’s sexual-harassment accuser, Anita Hill,) is a board member of the anti-gay Heritage Foundation, and founded and was the president of the Tea Party group, Liberty Central. (Mrs. Thomas was recently forced to step down from the group, presumably due to the impropriety of having a sitting Supreme Court Justice’s wife making extremist headlines.)

As a result of Virginia Thomas’ stepping down from Liberty Central, the Tea Party group will now merge with the Patrick Henry Center. Adele M. Stan in Alternet writes, “Also on the Patrick Henry advisory board are two anti-gay activists: Beverly LaHaye, founder of the Concerned Women for America, and Alan Sears, head of the Alliance Defense Fund. Rounding out the advisory board is Howard Phillips, founder of the Constitution Party, which seeks to replace secular law with biblical law. Phillips is one of the founders of the religious right, and a close associate of John Birch Society President John McManus.”

Given the ideological incestuousness of the anti-gay right, is there any possibility that Justice Clarence Thomas — a known anti-gay jurist in his own right — could judge LGBT-related cases without at least the appearance of being partial?

For what it’s worth, I don’t know if Judge Reinhardt should recuse himself, or if Judge Norman Randy Smith should recuse himself, or even, as I’m not a lawyer, if Justice Clarence Thomas should when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act, or other LGBT-related cases come before him. But I do know that if Maggie Gallagher and NOM are to have any credibility with Americans and our sense of fairness, she must demand Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from any LGBT-related cases.

If there’s one thing you can count on with Maggie Gallagher, it’s that she’s rarely able to see what’s around the corner. In this game of judicial chess, which Gallagher has been all-too-keen on starting, it’s clear the end result is the that forces of equality will have taken down NOM’s queen, and are poised to capture the king. Thanks, in part, to Maggie.

Editorial note: This piece represents the first of what I hope are many that will be posted also at I am grateful to the fine folks there, especially my wonderful editor at 365Gay, Jennifer Vanasco, for inviting me and supporting me. You can read this piece there as well.

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‘Scared to Death’: Trump’s Prison Panic Admission Means He Knows He’s Doomed Says Legal Expert



Reacting to a report that Donald Trump has been quizzing his attorneys about what type of prison he likely will be sent to, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner stated that is not only an indication that he knows he’s going to be convicted but also an admission of guilt.

Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart, the attorney was asked about a recent Rolling Stone report about Trump’s prison panic.

As Rolling Stone reported, Trump asked if he’s “be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to run for office?

According to the attorney, Trump is revealing himself by asking for so many details.

“What does this tell you about Trump’s mindset?” host Capehart asked.

“It tells me he is scared to death” Kirschner quickly answered. “It tells me he has overwhelming consciousness of guilt because he knows what he did wrong and he knows he is about to be held accountable for his crimes. So it is not surprising that he is obsessing.”

“If he was confident that he would be completely exonerated, would he have to obsess about what his future time in prison might look like?” he suggested. “I think the last refuge for Donald Trump can be seen in a recent post where he urged the Republicans to defund essentially the prosecutions against him. which, to this prosecutor, Jonathan, smells a lot like an attempt to obstruct justice.”

Watch below or at the link.


Image via Shutterstock

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‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban



A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”

Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”

READ MORE: ‘The Public Deserves to Know’: Abortion Pill Banning Judge Redacted Details About Millions of Dollars in His Stock Portfolio

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”

Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”

Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.

“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.

READ MORE: Far-Right Judge Under Fire for Failing to Disclose Interviews on Civil Rights – but LGBTQ Community Had Warned Senators

“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”

West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.

Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”

Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle



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Gaetz Praises GOP Congressman Who Echoes His Call for Change ‘Through Force’



U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL). largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that appear to suggest the use of violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.

“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”

Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.

READ MORE: White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown

“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”

Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle

Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”

“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”

“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”

“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”

In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”

“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”

At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.

“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”


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