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NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Speech On Same-Sex Marriage Equality

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The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for delivery at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

“I want to thank Rachel and our hosts here at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

“I think it’s fair to say that no institute of higher learning has had a more profound impact on the course of American history than Cooper Union. By opening the doors of its Great Hall to Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many other pioneering leaders, and by hosting the founding of the NAACP, Cooper Union has helped push American freedom ever higher, and ever wider.

“Today, we gather in this innovative and striking new academic building – a symbol of how Cooper Union has always looked forward and always championed progress. We gather – in the tradition of those who came before us – to discuss a momentous question before our nation and our great State of New York: Should government permit men and women of the same sex to marry?

“It is a question that cuts to the core of who we are as a country – and as a city. It is a question that deserves to be answered here in New York – which was the birthplace of the gay rights movement, more than 40 years ago. And it is a question that requires us to step back from the platitudes and partisanship of the everyday political debate and consider the principles that must lead us forward.

“The principles that have guided our nation since its founding – freedom, liberty, equality – are the principles that have animated generations of Americans to expand opportunity to an ever wider circle of our citizenry. At our founding, African-Americans were held in bondage. Catholics in New York could not hold office. Those without property could not vote. Women could not vote or hold office. And homosexuality was, in some places, a crime punishable by death.

“One by one, over many long years, the legal prohibitions to freedom and equality were overcome: Some on the battlefield, some at the State House and some in the courthouse. Throughout our history, each and every generation has expanded upon the freedoms won by their parents and grandparents. Each and every generation has removed some barrier to full participation in the American dream. Each and every generation has helped our country take another step on the road to a more perfect union for all our citizens. That is the arc of American history.  That is the march of freedom. That is the journey that we must never stop traveling. And that is the reason we are here today.

“The next great barrier standing before our generation is the prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples. The question is: Why now? And why New York? I believe both answers start at the Stonewall Inn. When the Village erupted in protest 42 years ago next month, New York – and every other state in the union, save one – still had laws on the books that made same-sex relationships a crime. A couple could go to prison for years, just for being intimate in the privacy of their own home. For men and women of that era, an era many of us remember well, being in a gay relationship meant living in fear:

“Fear of police harassment.

“Fear of public humiliation

“Fear of workplace discrimination.

“Fear of physical violence.

“Today, in some places, those fears still linger. But as a nation, we have come a long way since Stonewall. Today, two women in a committed relationship – who years ago would have hidden their relationship from family and friends – will instead take part in a wedding ceremony in front of their family and friends. Today, two men who are long-time partners – who years ago would never even have entertained the idea – will adopt a child and begin a family.

“Both events are possible because thousands of courageous individuals risked everything to come out and speak out. And because they did – because they organized and protested, because they poured their hearts out to friends and family and neighbors, because they stood up for their rights and marched for equality and ran for office – laws banning same-sex relationships have been struck down by the Supreme Court. More than 20 states have adopted laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. And beginning this year, patriotic men and women will be able to enlist in the U.S. military without having to hide their identity.

“We owe all of those pioneers a deep debt of gratitude.  And although the work is far from over, there is no doubt that we have passed the tipping point.

“Today, a majority of Americans support marriage equality – and young people increasingly view marriage equality in much the same way as young people in the 1960s viewed civil rights. Eventually, as happened with civil rights for African-Americans, they will be a majority of voters.  And they will pass laws that reflect their values and elect presidents who personify them.

“It is not a matter of if – but when.

“And the question for every New York State lawmaker is: Do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights? Or an obstructionist? On matters of freedom and equality, history has not remembered obstructionists kindly.

“Not on abolition.

“Not on women’s suffrage.

“Not on workers’ rights.

“Not on civil rights.

“And it will be no different on marriage rights.

“So the question really is: So, why now? Because this is our time to stand up for equality. This is our time to conquer the next frontier of freedom. This is our time to be as bold and brave as the pioneers who came before us. And this is our time to lead the American journey forward.

“It’s fitting that the gay rights movement began in our City, because New Yorkers have always been at the forefront of movements to expand American freedoms – and guarantee American liberties. Long before our founding fathers wisely decided to separate church from state, leading citizens of our City petitioned their colonial rulers for religious freedom. Long before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, many New Yorkers – including the founder of this college, Peter Cooper – crusaded against slavery. Long before the nation adopted the 19th Amendment, New Yorkers helped lead the movement for women’s suffrage. And long before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New Yorkers played a pivotal role in advancing a color-blind society.

“So why should New York now lead on marriage equality? Because we have always led the charge for freedom – and we have always led by example. No place in the world is more committed to freedom of expression – religious, artistic, political, social, personal – than New York City. And no place in the world is more welcoming of all people, no matter what their ethnicity or orientation.

“That has always been what sets us apart. In our city, there is no shame in being true to yourself.   There is only pride. We take you as you are – and we let you be who you wish to be. That is the essence of New York City!

“That is what makes us a safe haven for people of every background and orientation… and a magnet for talented and creative people. It’s the reason why we are the economic engine for the country and the greatest city in the world.

“But it’s up to us to keep it that way. As other states recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry, we cannot stand by and watch. To do so would be to betray our civic values and history – and it would harm our competitive edge in the global economy. This is an issue of democratic principles – but make no mistake, it carries economic consequences.

“We are the freest city in the freest country in the world – but freedom is not frozen in time. And if we are to remain the freest city, with the most dynamic and innovative economy, we must lead on this issue – just as we have on so many other matters of fundamental civil rights.

“In talking to State legislators who do not yet support marriage equality, I can sense that many of them are searching their souls for answers – and they are torn. Like all of us, they have friends and family and colleagues who are gay and lesbian. They know gay and lesbian couples who are deeply in love with each other – many of whom are loving and devoted parents, too. They know those couples yearn to be seen and treated as equal to all other couples. And they often hear from their own families – especially their children – that this is a civil rights issue. I hope they listen to their kids carefully and make them proud with their foresight and courage.

“Now, I understand the desire by some to seek guidance from their religious teachings. But this is not a religious issue.  It is a civil issue. And that is why, under the bill proposed in Albany, no church or synagogue or mosque would be required to perform or sanction a same-sex wedding – as is the case in every state that has legalized marriage equality.

“Some faith communities would perform them; others would not. That is their right. I have enormous respect for religious leaders on both sides of the issue, but government has no business taking sides in these debates – none!

“As private individuals, we may be part of a faith community that forbids divorce or birth control or alcohol. But as public citizens, we do not impose those prohibitions on society. We may place our personal faith in the Torah, or the New Testament, or the Koran, or anything else. But as a civil society, we place our public faith in the U.S. Constitution: the principles and protections that define it, and the values that have guided its evolution. And as elected officials, our responsibility is not to any one creed or congregation, but to all citizens.

“It is my hope that members of the State Senate majority will recognize that supporting marriage equality is not only consistent with our civic principles – it is consistent with conservative principles. Conservatives believe that government should not intrude into people’s personal lives – and it’s just none of government’s business who you love!

“Conservatives also believe that government should not stand in the way of free markets and private associations – including contracts between consenting parties. And that’s exactly what marriage is: a contract, a legal bond, between two adults who vow to support one another, in sickness and in health.

“There is no State interest in denying one class of couples a right to that contract. Just the opposite, in fact. Marriage has always been a force for stability in families and communities – because it fosters responsibility. That’s why conservatives promote marriage – and that’s why marriage equality would be healthy for society, healthy for couples and healthy for children.

“Right now, sadly, children of same-sex couples often ask their parents: ‘Why haven’t you gotten married like all our friends’ parents?’ That’s a heartbreaking question to answer.

“And it’s an early expression of the profound principle that sets our country apart: that all people are created equal, with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is the American dream – but for gay and lesbian couples, it is still only that: A dream.

“The plain reality is, if we are to recognize same-sex and opposite sex couples as equals, that equality must extend to obtaining civil marriage licenses. Now, some people ask: Why not just grant gay couples civil unions?

“That is a fair and honest question. But the answer is simple and unavoidable: Long ago, the Supreme Court declared that ‘separate but equal’ opportunities are inherently unequal. It took the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 60 years after Plessy vs. Ferguson, which upheld disparate treatment of non-whites, to come to that conclusion.

“But justice finally prevailed. It took the Supreme Court another 13 years to strike down laws barring inter-racial marriage and another 36 years after that to strike down laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. The march for equality and tolerance in America has sometimes been slow, but it has never stopped.

“Since our nation’s earliest days, when the first Congress adopted the Bill of Rights, the Constitution’s protections of liberty have grown broader and stronger, and the law of the land has grown increasingly neutral on matters of race, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.

“That inexorable progress is the genius of our constitutional system. In fact, we have had major social change without violence because the revolution we seek is contained within our founding documents. We have no king to overthrow – only our own ideals to live up to.

“In the weeks ahead, I will continue doing everything I can to convince our state legislators to take the long view and consider their place in history – and consider the kind of world they want to leave their children.

“Governor Cuomo and Governor Paterson both deserve great credit for advancing this issue in Albany, and I strongly believe that just as New Yorkers are discussing and debating it openly – so should both houses of the State Legislature.

“That’s democracy. And the essence of democracy is a public debate and a public vote. New Yorkers have a right to know where their elected officials stand – and make no mistake about it, avoiding a vote is the same as a no vote on this historic issue – and New Yorkers deserve better.

“We deserve a vote not next year, or after the 2012 elections, but in this legislative session.

“There’s a reason I’m so passionate about this issue – and so determined to push for change. I see the pain the status quo causes – and I cannot defend it. When I meet a New Yorker who is gay, when I speak with friends and members of my staff who are gay, or when I look into the eyes of my niece, Rachel, I cannot tell them that their government is correct in denying them the right to marry. I cannot tell them that marriage is not for them. I cannot tell them that a civil union is good enough.

“In our democracy, near equality is no equality. Government either treats everyone the same, or it doesn’t. And right now, it doesn’t.

“Tonight, two New Yorkers who are in a committed relationship will come home, cook dinner, help their kids with their homework and turn in for the night. They want desperately to be married – not for the piece of paper they will get. Not for the ceremony or the reception or the wedding cake. But for the recognition that the lifelong commitment they have made to each other is not less than anyone else’s and not second-class in any way. And they want it not just for themselves – but for their children. They want their children to know that their family is as healthy and legitimate as all other families.

“That desire for equal standing in society is extraordinarily powerful and it has led to extraordinary advances in American freedom.

“It has never been defeated.

“It cannot be defeated.

“And on marriage equality, it will not be defeated.

“There is no retreating to a past that has disappeared. There is no holding back a wave that has crested. And there is no denying a freedom that belongs to us all.

“The time has come for us to fulfill the dreams that exploded onto Sheridan Square 42 years ago: to allow thousands of men and women to become full members of the American family, and to take the next step on the inspired journey our founding fathers first began.

“Together, we can work across the aisle to pass a bill allowing all New Yorkers to walk down the aisle and lead our state and country toward a more perfect union. Thank you.”

 

(via Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly)

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

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The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James  Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for “influence peddling” despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling.

When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it.

Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations.

Here’s Chairman Comer with CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday. While the transcript is a bit simplified, it’s not far off.

“What’s different with Joe Biden is we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Comer said on CNN Sunday evening. “We have a strong suspicion that people around Joe Biden, mainly in his family, have been peddling access to the Biden family, with our adversaries around the world, and when we find out that they have multiple classified documents scattered throughout multiple residences and office buildings across the East Coast, then this raises a huge red flag for us. We want to make sure that those documents in the possession of Joe Biden weren’t somehow sent to our adversaries and didn’t somehow compromise our national security.”

READ MORE: The Powerful GOP Oversight Committee Chairman Is Pushing a Baseless Narrative That Biden Is ‘Compromised’

CNN’s Pamela Brown pushed back.

“But you’ve also talked about how you worried about the same situation with the Trump family. Trump had 300-plus documents at Mar-a-Lago, why don’t you have that same concern?” Brown asked. “I mean, there are visitors going in and out of Mar-a-Lago from different countries, including China, there’s been a Chinese spy who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago and it was in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago. So would you apply that same concern evenly across the board?

Comer was unimpressed with the facts she presented.

“If someone can show me evidence that there was influence peddling with those classified documents that were in the possession of President Trump, then we would certainly expect it.”

His defense for the Chinese spy? It’s a public place – making all the more dangerous for unsecured classified documents.

“Do you have evidence of influence peddling with the classified documents that was for Biden?” Brown asked. “It sounds like you don’t – you’re looking into it, but why wouldn’t you look into it in the same way for Trump?”

“We have evidence that the Biden family has been very cozy with people from the Chinese Communist Party. We have evidence that Hunter Biden was receiving payments that were that were linked directly to the Chinese Communist Party through those Chinese energy companies. We’re very concerned about all the money connected to Ukraine.”

“How is that connected to classified documents?” Brown again pushed.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“We don’t know we want to look. We see there’s one email that’s been identified that is suspicious that we want to look into. We want to make sure that there’s one email that was on Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t one of the classified documents. So I think there’s ample reason to be concerned.”

Comer revealed he has no evidence against President Biden or the Biden family.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a “a politically-driven fishing expedition.”

“Republican hypocrisy on full display,” Gomez tweeted in response. “How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.”

But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.

HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte called Comer out: “Trump ran a bribery center five blocks from The White House,” he shouted, referring to the Trump D.C. Hotel, while tweeting in all-caps.

“Just a stunning dereliction of duty,” charged Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Trump brought in tens of millions of dollars as president from businesses he refused to divest, which were used by special interests and foreign governments to enrich him while currying favor with him and his administration.”

Telling Chairman Comer he is “happy to chat,” Mother Jones’ David Corn tweeted, “I know of 2 billion reasons Comer and the House Republicans should look at the Trump family regarding influence peddling and overseas dealings.”

Corn is likely referring to the $2 billion “investment” Trump son-in-law and senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner received.

“Six months after leaving the White House,” The New York Times reported last April, “Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.”

READ MORE: Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

MSNBC’s Steve Benen likened Comer’s interview to “watching a snake eat its own tail.” Benen also pointed to Comer’s second attempt, Monday morning, which did not go well.

Bloomberg’s Emily Wilkins, the Vice President of the National Press Club, apparently mistakenly, said to Comer: “So you are asking questions about Trump.”

He made clear he is not.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

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A Pennsylvania principal drew criticism last week after telling a Bucks County school librarian to take down posters with a famous quote by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor, just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Despite being under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after an ACLU complaint, the Central Bucks School District earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass “a contentious policy that bans teachers from engaging in ‘advocacy activities’ and displaying inclusive symbols like Pride flags in their classrooms,” WHYY reported earlier this month.

Citing that new rule, known as Policy 321, the school principal told Central Bucks High School South librarian Matt Pecic to take down four posters that displayed Wiesel’s famous quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, WHYY reports.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” Wiesel said.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

The principal reportedly told Pecic if he did not comply human resources would have to get involved. Pecic, who has worked for the school district for three decades, met with the principal accompanied by his union representative.

“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” Pecic said. “It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with.”

Making the issue even more difficult, “Pecic’s ninth-grade daughter, a Central Bucks student at Holicong Middle School, originally emailed him the quote,” WHYY reports.

“This is where I get choked up,” Pecic said. “She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you.’”

Pecic describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”

On Thursday, after uproar from the community, the district stepped in and allowed the posters with Wiesel’s quote to be put back up.

READ MORE: Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

“We regret that the decision was made to remove it,” the district said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,  “and in a manner that promotes not only the importance of the novel, but continued awareness and education surrounding the Holocaust and its National Day of Remembrance this coming Friday. The district apologizes for any hurt or concerns this has caused, particularly for those in the Jewish community.”

The Central Bucks School District hired a public relations firm, Devine + Partners, at the cost of $15,000 a month, “in an attempt to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” The Buck’s County Herald reported last summer.

Devine + Partners was hired to help after “a series of executive decisions made by the Central Bucks School District, most of which appear targeted towards the LGBTQ+ student body.”

“This includes the removal of Pride Flags in the classroom, under the justification that they were political symbols, and as such, not fit for the classroom. It also includes only allowing students to attend Human Growth and Development classes that matched with their assigned genders at birth, and pausing said classes shortly after they began, effectively outing these students to their teachers and peers.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

WHYY is a separate report notes on Monday that the Central Bucks School District has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.

The district is currently reviewing five books after rolling out a new, harsh policy “which aims to keep books that a yet-to-be-determined group might deem ‘inappropriate’ for unspecified ‘sexualized content’ out of school libraries,” WHYY reported in July.

“Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times,” WHYY adds. “The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Earlier this month NBC 10 Philadelphia reported on the passage of Policy 321 by the school board. Watch below or at this link.

 

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News

Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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