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The Gay After Tomorrow

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Guest author Frank Bua is a Board 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, Hollingsworth v. Perry and 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” as 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 in Plessy v. Furgeson 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 in Hollingsworth v. Perry and 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, by Dan Marchese

A version of this article originally appeared at The Huffington Post and is published here with the author’s permission.

skitched-20130616-133756Frank Bua is educator, writer and member of Family Equality Council‘s national Board. His short story, Lost and Found, can be found in the anthology West Hollywood Stories. He lives in Manhattan with his partner and their four-year-old twins.

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‘He Said I’m Doing a Very Good Job’: Mike Johnson Slammed Over Remarks on Trump Meeting

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, the most-powerful elected Republican in the nation, second in line to the presidency, is under fire after appearing to subordinate himself to the criminally-indicted and criminally-convicted one-term ex-president, as he glowingly delivered a report of his Thursday meeting with Donald Trump.

Trump “said very complementary things about all of us. We had sustained applause. He said I’m doing a very good job. We’re grateful for that,” Speaker Johnson told reporters (vide below) after he and members of his Republican conference met with the ex-president barely blocks from where the January 6, 2021 insurrection Trump incited took place. Thursday marks the first time since that fatal and violent day Trump has returned to Capitol Hill.

The Speaker of the House is the co-head of a co-equal branch of the federal government. Donald Trump is no longer president, so is no longer head of the executive branch.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told reporters it was a “very successful special political conference with our special guest, President Donald J. Trump.”

“Johnson has openly embraced Trump, who was crucial in supporting him when he faced the threat of being ousted … by conservative GOP House hard-liners, saying coordination with Trump is important heading into November’s election and a potential second Trump presidency,” ABC News reports.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

“I think it’s important for the country, to have us, to have close coordination,” Johnson also said Wednesday. “I believe he’ll have, can be, the most consequential president of the modern era, because we have to fix effectively every area of public policy.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who has written nine books on the American presidency, slammed Johnson.

“Speaker of the House is incumbent elected officer of coequal branch of American government—shouldn’t feel need to publicly pronounce himself ‘grateful’ to an ex-President for saying he and party colleagues are doing a ‘good job.’ ”

“Half the US Congress is now weaponized, obstructing justice, and abusing power to help trump launder away his criminality, malfeasance, and failure—while also conflating government business with his campaign and insurrection with government,” observed Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski. “Trump owns the House. Is America next?”

Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer noted, “Trump’s supporters almost murdered these folks less than four years ago.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) added, “The guy who found ‘very fine people on both sides’ of a neo-Nazi rally thinks Mike Johnson is doing a good job. And Mike Johnson is proud of that. These people.”

Watch Speaker Johnson’s remarks below or at this link.

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‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

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In a largely expected ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected an attempt to have a decades-old prescription drug widely used to induce abortions, mifepristone, pulled from the market, but only because the group that filed the lawsuit lacked standing. The court did not rule on the actual merits of the case, nor on the drug’s safety and viability, or the FDA’s decision to approve the medication. Civil rights and other legal experts have long held Republicans, especially after Roe v. Wade was overturned, want to go after medication abortion and contraception, and warn after Thursday’s SCOTUS ruling those efforts will continue.

Mifepristone, which was first approved for use in France in 1988, was approved for prescription use in 2000 by the U.S. Food and Drug administration, which states it is safe to use.

“Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the court, wrote that while plaintiffs have ‘sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,’ that does not mean they have a federal case,” NBC News reports.

Justice Kavanaugh advised the plaintiffs that they “may present their concerns and objections to the president and FDA in the regulatory process or to Congress and the president in the legislative process.”

“And they may also express their views about abortion and mifepristone to fellow citizens, including in the political and electoral processes,” he added.

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Robert Reich, the professor of public policy and former U.S. Cabinet Secretary, wrote: “The Supreme Court dismissing challenges to the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is good news, but the fight’s not over. A MAGA-controlled FDA could effectively ban all abortion medications without even involving the courts or Congress. Abortion access is on the ballot this fall.”

Legal journalist Cristian Farias, added, “Today’s decision denying standing to religious doctors challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone says nothing about states doing the same. That’s a big problem, because Trump judge Matthew Kacsmaryk allowed a trio of states to intervene in this very case. He’s on a mission.”

Also pointing to the Kacsmaryk decision, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern warns, “Today’s decision will probably not stop him from issuing more nationwide restrictions on mifepristone.”

Legal experts say the way the court ruled was anticipated, the physicians’ claim to standing was “utterly ridiculous,” and warn the right will return with another attack on medication abortion.

Attorney Moe Davis, the well-known and outspoken retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, professor of law, and judge, declared: “To be clear, the Supreme Court did not decide the merits of the case. They said the party challenging mifepristone lacked standing (i.e., they couldn’t show they suffered any injuries) to bring the case. Another party could (and will) try again. This isn’t a win, it’s a delay.”

Professor of law and legal historian Mary Ziegler said, “The fight over abortion pills and the Comstock Act isn’t over. Other plaintiffs are ready to bring identical claims and assert they have standing. And conservatives argue that a Trump DOJ could enforce the Comstock Act as a ban and force SCOTUS to take up the q.”

READ MORE: ‘Birth Control and Dental Dams and Food’: Fox News Host’s Rant Goes Viral

Alex Aronson, former Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, now Executive Director of the non-profit organization Court Accountability, responded to Thursday’s ruling from a tactical perspective.

“Classic Roberts Court maneuver:

-grant dangerous, frivolous, right-wing case with no business on its docket;

-light country’s hair on fire;

-smack down frivolous case to be hailed as reasonable and moderate, giving cover to other destruction.

-still advance right-wing agenda”

Professor of law Melissa Murray, making clear this ruling is likely not the end, warned, “don’t breathe easy yet.”

“This decision preserves access to medication abortion… FOR NOW,” she wrote. “There will be another case–with better plaintiffs–before the Court faster than Thomas can book a ride on Crow’s private jet.”

READ MORE: ‘Lying’: Johnson Slammed for Latest Claim on Trump Respecting Peaceful Transfer of Power

 

Image via Shutterstock

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‘These Kinds of Folks’: Jim Jordan Wants to Block Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg

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Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, increasing his efforts to use the tools of his office to support, protect, and promote Donald Trump, has been speaking with Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan about defunding federal prosecutions of the now-criminally convicted ex-president, according to a report by Politico Playbook.

Thursday morning Donald Trump is meeting with House Republicans, barely blocks away from the violent and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol he incited, at the restaurant where one of the pipe bombs was discovered outside on January 6, 2021. Republicans, according to Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen, are singing the indicted ex-president “Happy Birthday,” and have presented him with the bat and ball from the congressional baseball game, which the GOP won Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, asked if Trump has committed to respect the peaceful transfer of power, an irritated and frustrated Speaker Johnson told reporters, “Of course he respects that. And we all do and we’ve all talked about it ad nauseam.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

Trump has been urging Speaker Johnson to pass legislation that would allow an ex-president to move any state-level prosecutions against them to the federal courts. It’s an idea that has been met with skepticism among Republicans, but “there’s an education effort underway inside the House GOP,” Politico reports, citing remarks by the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Russell Fry (R-SC).

Chairman Jordan wants to take those efforts to defund those federal prosecutions, specifically defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Office, and extend them to state prosecutors who have brought cases against the ex-president. State and local law enforcement agencies, including district attorneys offices, are eligible for federal grants.

“That country certainly sees what’s going on, and they don’t want Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg and these kinds of folks to be able to continue to use grant dollars for targeting people in a political lawfare type of way,” Chairman Jordan told Politico Playbook.

READ MORE: ‘Birth Control and Dental Dams and Food’: Fox News Host’s Rant Goes Viral

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