Guest authorÂ Frank Bua is aÂ BoardÂ Member of the Family Equality Council
It should come as no surprise that the Supreme Court has yet to issue rulings on two critical gay rights cases,Â Hollingsworth v. PerryÂ andÂ U.S. v. Windsor. According to the bible for Supreme Court junkies, SCOTUS Blog, landmark decisions require greater deliberation and tend to come out during the final day(s) of the court’s session — which this year is “penciled in” asÂ June 24. Make no mistake: Gay D-Day is coming soon to a theater near you, its release inexorably and poetically linked with New York City’s Pride celebrations. When the decisions come down, any progress will likely be tempered with disappointment that more sweeping change didn’t take place. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone either.
For the LGBT community and our allies, the past month has been a whirlwind of success and setback; we may not have always enjoyed the ride, but we’ve certainly had a front seat on the roller coaster. The Boy Scouts allowed gay boys to join but will still kick them out when they turn 18. Immigration reform is making its most successful revival since 1986, but the Uniting American Families Amendment (UAFA) was rather ceremoniously excluded from the Gang of Eight’s bill and the Senate Judicial Committee’s markup. The Land of 10,000 Lakes completed the most stunning same-sex turnaround since Ken Mehlman came out, yet the Land of Lincoln failed to get the Democratic-controlled Illinois House to even vote on a marriage measure. Hate crimes and HIV are back to levels that we haven’t seen since the 1980s. And that’s to say nothing of harmful international revelations of the obvious: The Vatican has a gay lobby, and Russian freedom is taking a page from the Soviet playbook.
There are always roadblocks to change, and President Obama understands this better than most. The most memorable line of his second inaugural address, “from Seneca Falls, to Selma, to Stonewall,” was more than a pretty alliteration, or historic recognition of the LGBT movement in a broader civil rights context: It demonstrated his understanding of time as an agent of change. The women’s suffrage and civil rights movements had a not-coincidental three-generation gestation period; the amount of time between Seneca Falls’ Declaration of Sentiments and the passage of the 19th Amendment was 72 years. Likewise, 69 years passed between the creation of the “separate but equal” doctrine inÂ Plessy v. FurgesonÂ and the March to Selma, which placed an exclamation point on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In such cases, as the older generation dies off, it takes with it the oppositional ignorance that was too ingrained to accommodate. The intermediate generation develops relationships with people from the minority group and begins to question the premise for — and justification of — discriminatory behavior simply because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” The next generation comes of age with a different worldview and frankly can’t understand what the problem was to begin with. Stonewall was 43 years ago; we may have to pave some more roads (and dig some more graves) before we find ourselves at the end of the rainbow.
Chief Justice John Roberts may find people falling all over themselves to support our movement, but 38 states still do not allow gays and lesbians to marry — and our movement is about more than just marriage. We need to push for inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in immigration reform to protect same-sex binational couples (paging Sen. Chuck Schumer); demand that Congress pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to end workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification; educate our youth that while HIV may be treatable, it is not curable; and move the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) into law so that the 400,000 children in foster care can be placed in homes with loving — and yes, even gay — parents. We need to give our youth the mechanisms to steer clear of hatred of others and themselves, and to take care of the LGBT elders who were on the front lines of our movement long before many of us were born. We need our president to issue his long-promised executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, and we need to exercise the power of the purse by frequenting LGBT-friendly businesses, avoiding others (as if the Valdez spill wasn’t enough of a reason to avoid ExxonMobil) and supporting candidates (Christine Quinn for mayor of New York, Corey Booker for U.S. Senate) who speak to our issues.
I too am eager to find out the decisions inÂ Hollingsworth v. PerryÂ andÂ U.S. v. Windsor, but our journey for equality will continue beyond these important cases. In the end, it is the court of public opinion that matters most — and the Williams Institute indicates we are doing pretty well there.
After all, it’s about time.
Image, top, byÂ Dan Marchese
A version of this article originally appeared at The Huffington Post and is published here with the author’s permission.
Frank Bua is educator, writer and member of Family Equality Council‘s national Board. His short story,Â Lost and Found, can be found in the anthologyÂ West Hollywood Stories. He lives in Manhattan with his partner and their four-year-old twins.
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‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage
Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.
Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.
“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.
Trump’s post generated outrage online.
“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”
Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”
“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.
Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”
Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”
Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”
Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets
Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.
An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.
“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”
Republicans held an offsite, mock Congressional hearing where they plotted to defund and shutdown the VA.
Healthcare for veterans is on the midterms ballot. pic.twitter.com/PAKFCQZk7Y
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 30, 2022
A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.
“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”
Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.
In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after militaries service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.
Republican leaders are now floating abolishing the VA and stealing veterans’ health care. And if you think that’s unlikely remember that 84% of republicans in Congress voted against veterans’ cancer care this year. https://t.co/BV1msdniP5
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) September 30, 2022
In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.
After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.
Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan
Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.
The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.
The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.
“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”
The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.
Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.
“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”
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