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Tennessee Anti-Gay Law: Alcoa Only National Company To Say “No!”

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Alcoa can’t wait… to distance themselves from the part an Alcoa representative on the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce played in helping an awful anti-gay bill pass in that state.

In response to AmericaBlog initiated Netroots action, Alcoa has released a statement condemning the law and calling on Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee to veto it.

“Alcoa provides equal employment opportunity without discrimination and supports state and local legislation protecting the rights of all community members. We do not agree with the chamber on this issue and would ask that the governor veto the bill.”

Alcoa responded 100% to the ask of the petition action, ask the Governor to veto it. The text of the petition:

We demand that you issue an immediate statement withdrawing your support for HB 600/SB 632, and that you tell Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this bill.

So we can be very grateful to Alcoa for this unequivocal show of support and penance. Alcoa is a publicly traded corporation with nearly 60,000 employees and reported over $21B in revenues in 2010. They produce aluminum. Other companies that control board seats include FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG,Whirlpool, Embraer and United HealthCare.Three others have responded to the petition action, although, less impressively.

The Netroots call to action has put corporate America swiftly on the run to distance their involvement in lobbying for Tennessee’s anti-gay bill, HB600/SB 632, which would strip away local LGBT non-discrimination protection, such as was recently enacted in Nashville, and prohibit it anywhere else in the state of Tennessee. Last week I wrote about the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act. The state law purports to assert the State’s ultimate sovereignty to define anti-discrimination protection only at the state level and enforce uniformity. But, it is really a naked attempt to strip away local and city level ordinances that protect LGBT residents of Tennessee from discrimination. It has passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard on behalf of the bill and as such, LGBT activists have called their board members and parent companies to do some explaining. Please tell us how stripping LGBT Americans from discrimination protection is good for business?

In just a few short days, this movement is already having a big impact. The petition has gained almost 10,000 signatures, it is here. It must be getting someone’s attention. No less than four of the 13 companies targeted have issued statements of response.

The other companies releasing statements are Nissan here, FedEx here and AT&T here. They are not nearly as forthright as Alcoa’s and contain a fair amount of spin.

The other statements seem more aimed at damage control than, you know, actually helping the LGBT citizens of Tennessee whose civil rights their companies representatives have thrown their weight behind stripping away.

None of the other three call on the Governor to Veto the bill.

FedEx’s statement says:

FedEx did not lobby for SB632/HB600 – it is our policy not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While FedEx is a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, we do not support every position proposed by the Chamber.

This is disingenuous, and bordering on a lie.In fact, FedEx is more than a member, they’re on the board of directors. Which would place them in the position to, ahem, direct the Chamber’s actions. As such they cannot so easily wash their hands of this and say, “We didn’t know what the Chamber was up to!”

Nissan’s statement says:

HB600/SB632 has become more closely associated with eroding civil liberties than fostering a strong business climate and this we do not support.

And AT&T says:

However, the bill has become implicated in efforts to erode the rights of the gay community, which we do not support.

Actually, that was the whole point of the bill, to erode a hard-fought victory in Nashville. And a little due diligence on the parts of these companies before endorsing would have made that quite clear to them.Nissan, AT&T and FedEx seem more concerned about the bill being “perceived” as an attack on gays than making any actual penance or reparations for their company’s role in helping it pass.

And it isn’t just a perception, this bill is very clearly an outright attack on LGBT Americans, designed specifically to strip them of protection from discrimination. It is a direct response to the LGBT community’s hard-fought victory in getting LGBT non-discrimination protection in Nashville, Tennessee. Stripping those discrimination protections away was the impetus and the purpose of the law. And a cursory research before these companies’ proxies endorsed and worked for it would made that very clear.

It was made quite clear by main bill backer Family Action Council’s support for the bill, from their web site:

How will new legislation in Nashville affect family values across Tennessee?

Yes, “family values” because anything that is good for the LGBT is a threat to families. That’s always a given isn’t it? If a McDonald’s manager can’t fire the fry cook for being gay, you’re going to have to let Elton John babysit your son.The primary backer of the bill was the Family Action Council, a group with a very clear Christian right agenda:

Our Mission: To equip Tennesseans and their public officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good.Our Goals: Engaged Citizens … Godly Officials … Strong Families

If Nissan and AT&T are now genuinely surprised this bill became “associated” or “implicated” to be anti-gay, they just weren’t paying attention. And just look at this TV advertisement Family Action Council produced in support of HB600/SB632. You’d have to be blind to miss the anti-gay animus and hateful demagoguery they were inciting to sell this bill to the public:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=7o2YGH8bacE%3Ffs%3D1%26hl%3Den_US

This is the most outrageously homophobic commercial I have ever had the misfortune of viewing. The message is simple: only passing HB600/SB632 can prevent your children from being molested in a public park by the gays. It’s also a tried and true tactic of these hate groups. The soundtrack of blood-curdling screams of the little ones was a particularly classy touch.One thing AT&T and Nissan might consider adding to their vetting process of deciding whether to endorse a piece of legislation, is seeing if it’s a pet project of known Hate Group, identified by The Southern Poverty Law Center. Among the groups sending out Action Alerts of support is The Family Research Council. Family Research Council has been named a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, adding them to the ranks of the KKK and Neo-Nazis, and with good reason.

One quote that earned them that spot was in criticizing American Airlines for providing LGBT partner benefits a spokesman, “What are you going to develop next? A pedophilia market?” Equating homosexuality with pedophilia is a constant refrain for these groups, as we see by the advertisement above. There is no scientific basis to suggest gays and lesbians are more or less inclined to molest children than heterosexuals, but the keep banging that drum because it works.

In the future, any group considering endorsing legislation might do well to cross-reference if a Hate Group is also strongly endorsing it (like the Klan or neo-Nazis, who also make SPLC’s lists). If they are, the chances are pretty good it’s not going end up being a bill you’d want your name associated with. And you can save yourself the trouble of walking back your support by issuing statements like this one from Nissan:

However, HB600/SB632 has become more closely associated with eroding civil liberties than fostering a strong business climate and this we do not support.

Nissan, AT&T and FedEx still need to step it up and do as Alcoa has done: Call on the Governor to veto this bill. That is, if they are sincere in their support of LGBT Rights.

Right click to Enlarge.

Here is the original target list of companies, all are Board Members of the Chamber of Commerce, (not mere members as FedEx tried to say they were). Numbers are their Human Rights Campaign score on the Corporate Equality Index rating their gay-friendliness out of 100. Cross-outs indication companies that have tried to explain their company’s involvement thus far.

AT&T: 100
DuPont: 100
Pfizer: 100
KPMG: 100
Whirlpool: 100
Alcoa: 100
Comcast: 95
Blue Cross Blue Shield : 90
Caterpillar: 75
FedEx: 70
Nissan: 50

Interestingly, Pfizer’s Diversity and Inclusion page includes the following quote:

“Pfizer is committed to sustaining and expanding a culture of Diversity and Inclusion in everything we do.”

“Everything” Pfizer? Including having your representatives lobby for a bill that strips LGBTs in Tennessee of discrimination protection? How does that track?When we’re experiencing impact this substantial it means it’s time to double down. That a company the size of Alcoa, with major operations in the state of Tennessee, has called on the Governor to veto the bill is major news. I am optimistic we’ll be seeing this story get national media coverage in the coming days. That four targets have felt the need to respond will provide pressure for the others to explain their representative’s support for this awful and regressive piece of legislation, which the business community cannot have any reasonable explanation to have a stake in.

Please help us send a message to corporate America: “Keep your hands off of LGBT Americans’ Civil Rights.” Please sign the open letter calling on all of these companies to tell the governor to veto the bill. If you have already please, post it on on your Facebook wall, tweet it or email it to a few friends.

Lt Dan Choi helped out last week, tweeting the link and added a timely and humorous aside:

Photobucket

Yes, time is running out! The Governor may sign this bill this week. Thanks to everyone who signed yesterday. Keep up the pressure.

 

Scott Wooledge also writes at Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.
Read Scott’s previous post at The New Civil Rights Movement, “142 Gay Veterans Not Worth $2.1 Million To Obama Administration.”

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“The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed outrage at her conservative Supreme Court colleagues Thursday afternoon, after the six right wing jurists went one step further in attacking the constitutional guarantee of abortion.

Voting 6-3 against a women’s health care provider the Court denied a request by Texas Women’s Health, which provides abortion services, to change jurisdictions, which according to Justice Sotomayor the Court should have done.

“The lawsuit is now stalled with the Texas Supreme Court,” Rewire News reports.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, a Supreme Court expert calls Sotomayor’s dissent “stunning.”

“This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies,” Sotomayor writes. “I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee. I dissent.”

She begins her dissent by explaining the case:

“It has been over four months since Texas Senate Bill 8 (S. B. 8) took effect. The law immediately devastated access to abortion care in Texas through a complicated private-bounty-hunter scheme that violates nearly 50 years of this Court’s precedents.”

“Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights. One month after directing that the petitioners’ suit could proceed in part, the Court countenances yet another violation of its own commands. Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation. The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”

In response the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, accused the Supreme Court of “once again putting ideology over the rule of law.”

 

Image via Shutterstock

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Ivanka Trump Responds to Committee’s Invite by Saying She Called for End to Violence – Leaves Out ‘Patriots’ Part

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Ivanka Trump is responding to her invitation from the January 6 Committee by issuing a statement that is being seen suggesting she has no intention of accepting. Earlier Thursday the Committee sent the former First Daughter and White House senior advisor a lengthy 11-page letter asking for her voluntary cooperation.

A statement from her spokesperson given to CNN White House Correspondent Kate Bennett references a tweet posted by Ivanka Trump the day of the attack on the Capitol – a tweet she was forced to delete after massive outrage.

“As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally,” the statement reads. “As she publicly stated at 3:15pm, ‘any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately.”

But in the actual Ivanka Trump called the insurrectionists “American Patriots,” as CNN reported that day:

 

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Georgia Prosecutor Asks to Convene Special Grand Jury to Investigate Donald Trump’s Alleged Election Interference

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A Georgia county district attorney has requested to convene a special grand jury to assist in her investigation of Donald Trump‘s alleged election interference.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a letter to the county’s Superior Court chief judge writes that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” according to the Associated Press.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (photo) was forced to release audio of then-President Trump appearing to intimidate him into fixing the election in his favor.

Trump, in the audio, can be heard berating and threatening the Republican Secretary of State, demanding he “recalculate” the losing election results and “find 11,780 votes” for him, which would have enabled Trump to falsely be declared the winner. Raffensberger refused.

“So look. All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensberger. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” he added, falsely. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Willis told the AP the scope of her investigation “includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.”

 

 

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