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.
â€œJudge Reinhardtâ€™s wife, Ramona Ripston, has been involved in this case on numerous accounts, and what weâ€™ve learned from Ed Whelanâ€™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,â€ said Brian Brown, president of NOM. â€œWe 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.â€
(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, Reinhardtâ€™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 todayâ€™s decision but thereâ€™s a long road ahead toward establishing true marriage equality for same-sex couples.’â€
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 365Gay.com. 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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Trump Uses Crude Anti-LGBTQ Language – Aides Stunned by Obsession With Staffers’ Sexuality: New Book
Donald Trump often asked oddly personal questions about staffers’ sexuality and made homophobic remarks about those he perceived might be gay, according to a new book.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s forthcoming book, “The Decider,” reveals that Trump’s obsession with appearing to be masculine drives his startling behavior, such as a meeting early in his administration with vice president Mike Pence and campaign aide Jason Miller, whom he declared certainly “likes the ladies,” according to excerpts published by The Daily Beast.
“You know how sometimes someone turns out to be gay later and you knew?” Trump said, according to the book. “This guy, he isn’t even like one percent gay.”
Trump was preoccupied with speculation about who in his orbit might be gay, and often mocked Trump Organization executive Alan Marcus as “queer” and “bragged that he paid the executive less,” Haberman reported, and former employees said he would show off photos of women with whom he claimed to have know intimately.
“They also recalled Trump mocking gay men, or men who were seen as weak, with the words ‘queer’ or ‘f*ggot,’” Haberman wrote.
Haberman described one episode from a week before the second presidential debate in 2016, when then-adviser Reince Priebus asked Trump a hypothetical question from the point of view of a female transgender student about using the girls’ restroom — prompting a response that prompted stunned silence.
“C*cked or dec*cked?” Trump asked.
An unspecified individual broke the awkward silence by suggesting “dec*cked,” and Trump responded by making a chopping gesture.
“With c*ck or without c*ck?” he said, according to Haberman.
An adviser asked what difference that made, and Trump suggested that detail would determine how he answered the question.
“What if a girl was in the bathroom and someone came in, lifted up a skirt, and a schlong was hanging out?” Trump said, according to the book.
Watch: Cruz Only ‘No’ Vote After Railing Against Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Another Coup
The Senate Rules Committee voted 14-1 to advance the Electoral Count Act, legislation designed to prevent another coup like the one led by defeated President Donald Trump, and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, on January 6, 2021. Every Democrat and every Republican except the junior GOP Senator from Texas voted for the legislation.
The bill is even supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But according to Sen. Cruz, who once bragged he was “leading the charge” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, the bill is “all about” Donald Trump.
With so many stories published about the GOP’s efforts to keep Trump in the White House despite Joe Biden winning both the popular vote and the Electoral College by large margins, some may have missed The Washington Post‘s reporting back in March the shows “just how deeply” Sen. Cruz “was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power.”
“As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles,” the Post notes.
“Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyer John Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.”
On Tuesday Cruz railed against the Electoral Count Act, which would make the January 6 attempt to overturn the election at least more difficult, as his fellow Republicans seemed to ignore his outburst.
“This bill is all about Donald J. Trump,” Cruz declared, not realizing that he was indicting the former president by saying so. “And nobody in our lifetimes has driven Democrats in this body more out of their mind than President Trump.”
“This bill is a bad bill, this bill is bad law,” Cruz complained. “It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy,” he added, despite every other Republican on the committee voting for it and several Republicans voting for the House version.
What he did not say is that no Democrat has ever conspired to overturn an election and execute a coup.
Senator Angus King (I-ME) after Cruz’s rant, reminded the committee the bill does not “come out of the blue,” saying it is “a modification of a 150-year old law.”
“It’s not a new effort of Congress to intrude into the electoral process,” he said, taking a gentle swipe at Cruz.
“I watched this,” NPR’s Peter Sagal said of Cruz’s remarks, “and what’s remarkable is to the extent to which all the other Senators (with the exception of a mild correction from Sen King) simply ignore him.”
He went on to note the bill “merely intended to clarify” the existing law, “which virtually everyone … has agreed is archaic and confusing.”
Despite all his bravado, the bill did advance out of committee almost unanimously, with the exception of Cruz’s lone no vote.
Watch below or at this link.
Ted Cruz just became the only republican on the Rules committee to vote against the Electoral Count Act, which puts guard rails in place to prevent future coup attempts.
Cruz led the charge in the Senate to overturn the last election for Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/IY7ZZPavow
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) September 27, 2022
Highly-Anticipated J6 Committee Hearing Likely Postponed
Wednesday’s highly-anticipated hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, the first one since July, and possibly the final publicly-televised event, will likely be postponed due to Hurricane Ian which is ravaging Florida.
The Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey were the first to report the postponement. MSNBC has confirmed the likely postponement.
No new date has been scheduled yet.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
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